Poorer countries lack midwives to cut birth deaths -report
* Lower-to-middle income nations face "serious shortage"
* Only four countries meeting women's needs for midwifery births
By Susan Heavey
WASHINGTON, June 3 (Reuters) - The majority of the world's poorer countries, which account for nearly all childbirth-related deaths among newborns and mothers, are facing a critical shortage of professional midwives who could ease the problem, global health experts said on Tuesday.
Among 73 lower and middle income nations, just four - Armenia, Colombia, Dominican Republic and Jordan - have adequate resources in place, according to a review led by the United Nations Populations Fund and the World Health Organization.
"More than three-quarters face serious shortages that will result in unnecessary deaths of women and babies," Frances Day-Stirk, president of the International Confederation of Midwives, told reporters on a conference call.
Midwives, who are trained to deliver babies and provide medical care before and after pregnancy, can provide most of the services needed for women and newborns, experts said. That is critical to relieve pressure on doctors, especially in areas where medical resources are scarce or difficult to access.
In 2013, there were an estimated 2.6 million stillbirths, 3 million newborn deaths and 289,000 maternal deaths. More than 92 percent of those deaths occurred in the countries reviewed, the groups said in their "State of the World's Midwifery" report.
The countries included in the review range from China, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan to Central African Republic, Chad, Guatemala and Mexico, among others. Continuación...