Nurses are the backbone of the health care system
News 2012

Nurses are the backbone of the health care system

Midwives save lives

May 12, 2012

​Nurses and midwives should be provided training opportunities to ensure the provision of quality health care as they are the basis of a sound and viable health care system. This was the message shared by local and international experts at a seminar organised by Aga Khan University, School of Nursing and Midwifery and Nursing Services to jointly celebrate International Nurses Day and the International Day of the Midwife.

The current state of nursing in Pakistan with reference to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 was the focal point of the day-long event. Pakistan has only 73,244 nurses and 27,153 midwives to cater to a population in excess of 170 million; each year 260 per 100,000 women die while pregnant or during childbirth, while 72 per 100,000 newborns die within the first 24 hours of life.

“Nurses and midwives can drastically change these figures and that is why today, we need trained nurses and skilled midwives more than ever,” said Dr Keith Cash, Dean, Aga Khan University, School of Nursing and Midwifery. Dr Cash further stated that if Pakistan was to achieve the targets of reducing child mortality and improving maternal health defined in MDGs 4 and 5, respectively, it was imperative that capacity building of nurses and midwives be undertaken through concerted training and educational programmes. According to Dr Cash, such action was the most cost-effective method of upgrading the health care system in the country.

The chief guest at the event, Frances Day-Stirk, President, International Confederation of Midwifery, said, “Every year over 800,000 new-born babies die during child birth and more than three million babies die before they are one month old. More than 7.6 million children die before the age of five.” Ms Day-Stirk added that proper midwifery care would go a long way in reducing these numbers making the accessibility of midwives for every childbearing woman particularly the poor and those who live in rural areas that much more important. “The evidence shows that it is a more effective way to reach MDGs 4 and 5 … it is why the world needs midwives now more than ever. Midwives save lives”.

Dr Andrea Baumann, Scientific Director, Nursing Health Services Research Unit, McMaster University site, addressed the audience through a web link and said, “Nurses are in the forefront of care.  Nurses are key to providing data at the bedside or in community settings. They provide valuable evidence that eventually changes practice and produces the highest quality of care for the patient.”

Dr Nancy Edwards, Professor, School of Nursing, University of Ottawa, who also joined the seminar through a web link, concurred, adding, “Providing good quality care requires the timely use of evidence to inform clinical practice, organisational and health systems change.

Dr Fauziya Ali, Director, MScN Programme, Aga Khan University, School of Nursing and Midwifery and co-chair for the seminar, concluded the event by stressing that dissemination of local research remains critical in evaluating nursing practices in the country. Awareness has to be created among health care teams promoting evidence-based practice.

Media contact:

Fabeha Pervez, Media Executive, Department of Public Affairs, Aga Khan University, Stadium Road, Karachi, on +92 21 3486 2925 or