Every year, 5 May is dedicated to one of the most important professions in the world – the midwife. No matter where you live, the work of midwives is at the very heart of a family’s health. Their roles are multifaceted and comprehensive, but often underappreciated.

No one knows that better than Mme. Kouyaté Haby Koné, midwife at the community health center in Boulkassoubougou. Haby has served as a midwife and taken care of families in her community for more than two decades.

As a woman, I am proud of my job because I witness all day long the role that midwives play in the health of the family. We accompany pregnant women, newborns, mothers, and families during a very sensitive phase of their lives.

Haby Koné

Though she has been dedicated to caring for mothers, newborns, and families for much of her life, it can still be a daily struggle. She notes that midwives like her often lack access to technical training and ongoing updates on health standards. She wishes they had more resources to advance in the practice of their profession.

The health center where Haby works in Boulkassoumbougou is a part of our participatory quality improvement program, so she does have access to these resources. They make a difference not only in her feelings about the quality of her work, but in the outcomes for her patients. Thanks to her, more mothers are completing all their prenatal care, coming to deliver at the health center, and returning for postnatal care, and their children’s vaccinations.

But as she so effectively and kindly takes care of her patients, she still thinks about all her colleagues across Mali and across the world.

Haby counsels a mother on family planning options
Haby counsels a patient on family planning options

In 2021, the theme of International Day of the Midwife was connected to the publication of a report about the state of midwifery practice around the world, and just how essential it is.

For Haby, the more attention that can be paid to the needs of midwives, the better. She believes more needs to be done, urgently:

I appeal to governments, civil society organizations, and partners to commit themselves to improving the technical platform and support for midwives, and to invest in building the capacity of midwives in order to save lives and improve the well-being of pregnant women, mothers, and newborns.

Together, we can hold policymakers to account and show that the numbers on the impact of midwives speak for themselves and that we need to invest in midwives for midwife-led care now and for future generations.

Haby Koné