Dame Karlene Davis, president of the International Confederation of Midwives and outgoing president of the RCM, has called for an urgent summit of world leaders to deal with the issue.
In a speech at the International Congress of Midwives in Glasgow this week, she described the gap in maternity care between developed and many developing nations as ‘staggering’.
She said that in the worst situations in developing countries over 10,000 mothers died giving birth for every 500,000 live births – this compares to 40 in every 500,000 live births in the UK.
Dame Karlene cited simple solutions that could make a massive difference, including improved immunisation, insecticide-treated bed-nets, exclusive breastfeeding, clean water, Vitamin A supplements and more midwives.
‘As midwives, united by a unique commitment to safe birth, we do not accept the scandalous situation where thousands of women and babies die needlessly every year,’ she said.
Over 3,000 midwives from 80 countries will attend the conference.