An ancient and most noble profession

Jesmin Akhter receiving the Midwives4All award from Ambassador Johan Frisell

Jesmin Akhter receiving the Midwives4All award from Ambassador Johan Frisell

The International Day of the Midwife was celebrated on 5 May at the Bangla Academy premises. The guests at the event paid their tribute to midwives around the world and midwives in Bangladesh. The theme for this year was Women and Newborns: the Heart of Midwifery.

The celebrations took place on the third and final day of the National Conference of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights; focusing on midwife-led maternal and newborn health care, including family planning and other sexual and reproductive health care services. The day’s celebrations also included the award giving ceremony of the “Midwives4all Award” for this year.

The Chief Guest, Dr. Biman Kumar Shaha, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) in his keynote speech professed his support for the midwifery profession. He said that the Government of Bangladesh is working relentlessly to promote midwifery in Bangladesh, investing more money in educating young women in the profession and deploying midwives all across the country.

Special Guest, Ms. Nilofar Ahmed, Director, Bangladesh Nursing Institute, Ms. Argentina Matavel Piccin, UNFPA Representative, Bangladesh and Johan Frisell, Ambassador, Embassy of Sweden in Bangladesh also showed their support for the cause. Ms Piccin mentioned that midwifery is “an ancient and a most noble profession” and urged the young students to be respectful of their profession and to commit to helping every woman and child that they attend.

The celebrations came to a close with the presentation of The Midwives4all Award by Johan Frisell, the Ambassador of Sweden in Bangladesh. The Ambassador highlighted the impact of midwifery in his speech, stressing that “Maternal mortality can be reduced with 87% if women have access to comprehensive midwifery and family planning services. Providing midwifery education and midwifery deployment to the communities could yield a sixteen-fold return on investment in terms of lives saved and costs of caesarian sections avoided”.

The award presented by the Ambassador is a part of the Midwives4all campaign launched in 2015 by the Swedish Ministry for Foreign affairs and the International Confederation of Midwives. The aim of the campaign is to increase the number of midwives and recognize individual efforts around the globe. The Swedish Ministry for Foreign affairs in cooperation with the International Confederation of Midwives and the Bangladesh Directorate of Nursing Services joined efforts this year to nominate Ms. Jesmin Akhter of Bangladesh for the Midwives4all Award 2016.

Ms Akhter is a dedicated midwife committed to improve the midwifery profession in Bangladesh. She has a long experience in the field of clinical midwifery at district level and is involved in midwifery education at the Dhaka Medical College and Hospital. She is now working at the Directorate of Nursing Services providing support at the national level to establish and strengthen the midwifery services and education in Bangladesh.

The National Conference of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights took place from the 3rd to 5th of May 2016, at the Bangla Academy and was jointly organized by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Embassy of Sweden, the United Nationals Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoH&FW). The Reproductive Health Services Training and Education Program (RHSTEP) was the secretariat for this event.

Embassy of Sweden in Dhaka