KARACHI - Nurses and midwives should be provided training opportunities to ensure provision of quality healthcare, as they are the basis of a sound and viable healthcare system, said local and international experts while speaking at a seminar jointly organised by the Aga Khan University and School of Nursing and Midwifery and Nursing Services to mark the International Nurses’ Day and International Day of Midwife on Saturday. According to organisers, the current state of nursing in Pakistan with a 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 of 170 million. Each year, 260 of every 100,000 women die during pregnancy or childbirth, while 72 per 100,000 newborns die within the first 24 hours,” said the speakers. “Nurses and midwives can drastically change these figures. We need trained nurses and skilled midwives more than ever,” said Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery Dean Dr Keith Cash. He said 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 Cash, such action was the most cost-effective method of upgrading the healthcare system in the country. In his addressm the chief guest of the event, International Confederation of Midwifery President Frances Day-Stirk, said, “Every year over 800,000 newborn babies die during childbirth 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.” She 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”. Addressing the audience through a weblink, McMaster University Nursing Health Services Research Unit’s Scientific Director Dr Andrea Baumann said, “Nurses are in the forefront of care.” University of Ottawa School of Nursing Professor Dr Nancy Edwards, who also joined the seminar through a weblink, added, “Providing good quality care requires the timely use of evidence to inform clinical practice, organisational and health systems change.” Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery MScN Programme Director Dr Fauzia Ali, who co-chaired the seminar, concluded the event by stressing that dissemination of local research remained critical in evaluating nursing practices in the country. “Awareness has to be created among healthcare teams promoting evidence-based practice,” she concluded.