Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health

29th Triennial Congress of the International Confederation of Midwives

19-23 June 2011
Durban, South Africa

On 5 May 2011, the International Day of Midwives will be marked by community activities around the world. The International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) is calling on midwives around the world to take part in a five-kilometre walk to advocate for global attention to the crucial role of skilled birth attendants in reducing maternal and perinatal mortality.

These community walks are the first steps along what ICM calls the 'Road to Durban,', which will collectively cover thousands of kilometres around the globe, in the lead-up to the 29th Triennial Congress of the International Confederation of Midwives. This Congress, which will take place 19-23 June 2011 in Durban, South Africa, will bring together more than 1 000 midwives from over 60 countries. The congress aims to raise awareness of the need for more midwives globally, and particularly in sub-Saharan Africa -- the region with the highest burden of maternal and newborn mortality -- and highlight the role of midwives in reaching Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5.

The first ‘State of the World's Midwifery’ report – of which WHO is a co-author – will be launched at the congress. This report will take stock of the availability of midwifery services in countries with high maternal and newborn mortality. It will provide new information and data gathered from 60 countries in all regions of the world.

WHO strongly advocates for skilled birth attendants, including midwives, at every birth to reduce the burden of maternal mortality. To achieve universal coverage of services for mothers and newborns, the number of skilled attendants must be increased and health systems strengthened.