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China Maternal and Child Health Association, Beijing

Distinguished participants, government officials from National Health Commission, from China Maternal and Child Health Association, and other entities participating in this important event, midwives - our dear colleagues who saved the lives on the front line, ladies and gentlemen, distinguished participants, I greet you all and thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to be with you today to mark the very important day of this publication for all of us, and share with you some thoughts on behalf of UNFPA. 

As you know, UNFPA has been part of this process, supporting the publication of this midwifery textbook, and we are very proud, and honored, and grateful to be part of this process. Midwives are essential in saving the lives of women around the world. We know that maternal mortality is one of the most heartbreaking tragedies in the lives of any family around the world. Imagine that the young mother, who is the pillar of the family, died just because of pregnancy related causes, which almost all of them are preventable, it's a tragedy for the family, for the community, and for their society at large. Midwives can save those lives. At least two third of those missed lives can be saved by skilled midwives around the world. Provision of skilled attendance at birth can simply save the mothers and save the lives, and make their families healthy with the mothers there.

Midwives are important also in terms of other maternal and child health care provisions, because it's not just the delivery care, they can also attend some of the tasks around the delivery, including the newborn care, and as a result, they can also have an impact on the infants and newborns' health. UNFPA is proud that it has been working with the CMCHA, and also National Health Commission, and managed to have the Chinese versions of the midwifery textbooks, which is now a milestone that we have a product that standardizes and professionalizes the midwifery education in China.

UNFPA, as part of the larger UN family working in China on different fronts, as part of the larger UN system and UN family, we are adopting our programs in China as part of the UN Sustainable Development Corporation Framework, UNSDCF, that has been recently signed it between the UN system and the government of China. Within that framework, we formulate our program under the UNFPA Country Program, in which a main thrust of our program is focused on sexual and reproductive health information and services, and to improve those information and services for women around the country, and a part of that is, of course, midwifery and support to midwifery.

I'm very pleased to highlight the fact that now we have at least eight medical universities in China who are offering bachelor degrees in midwifery. We learned that it's possible to expand that to more than 20 universities. That will be a game changer, I think, in terms of attending to the women at the time of delivery, and making sure the delivery is safe and sound for all women in China. We know also that the Chinese version of this edition of midwifery textbook will be also playing an important role, and as a milestone of the work of midwives in China. 

I use this opportunity to advocate for considering a standalone health cadre being recognized at the level of association or at the level of accreditation within the system as midwives. Midwives are part of the health system, although they can have any type of background, such as nursing or other health related professionals, but they are, by themselves, a standalone entity among the health cadres. So it's important to recognize them as a separate and independent entity within the health cadre. I usually compare midwives and nurses to orange and grapefruit. They are in the same family, but different density in general. So we cannot and should not mix of the two, clearly. We have lab technicians, nurses, radiology technicians, and many other health related entities within the health system. So we hope that midwives also can be recognized as a standalone health cadre in the system. 

Thank you again. I wish I was there with you at this launch. I wish the best for your training programs and am looking forward to attending more and more midwives’ graduation ceremonies in China.

Thank you very much.