Transforming Evidence into Action: Making the Case for Midwifery in Mexico

Transforming Evidence into Action: Making the Case for Midwifery in Mexico


In Mexico, the health workforce meets only 61 percent of women’s and newborns’ health care needs. Thousands of women and babies die needlessly each year due to a lack of essential obstetric care. Despite progress, close to 30,000 infants died in Mexico in 2015. The national maternal mortality ratio (MMR) of 38 per 100,000 live births hides significant inequalities. For example, two municipalities in Chiapas, with a state MMR of 54.8 in 2009, reported MMRs of 115.4 and 128.8 that same year. Only 81 percent of indigenous women received skilled birth attendance in 2012, compared to 99 percent of non-indigenous women. 

The FCI Program of MSH worked to address this inequity by transforming evidence that effective midwifery saves lives into action by unified, empowered midwifery advocates. Funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and led by the FCI Program of MSH, the project aimed to strengthen advocates’ capacity to make persuasive arguments that support the three pillars of effective midwifery: education, regulation, and association. 

Working in six Mexican states (Chiapas, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Morelos, Tlaxcala and Oaxaca), this two-year project:

  • Fostered greater unity among providers of midwifery services and solidarity with the communities they serve
  • Supported development of a common language for defining the essential competencies of a midwife and a common understanding of the importance of midwifery for improving maternal, newborn, and reproductive health
  • Strengthened the advocacy capacity of midwives and key stakeholders
  • Helped to build support for the adoption of evidence-based, midwife-led models of care

The FCI Program of MSH worked with midwives and service providers from a range of institutions, including midwifery schools, the state- and national-level ministries of health, UN agencies, and national and local NGOs in the six states.

In Hidalgo state, Mexico, midwifery interns are bringing comprehensive, respectful, quality healthcare to women. Midwives apply evidence-based practices, reassure and help patients, and have become an integral part of the maternal health team.
Tania Vargas Martínez, a midwifery intern at San Felipe Orizatlan Rural Health Center in Hidalgo, Mexico, has become an integral part of the women’s health care team. Martínez follows mothers throughout their pregnancy, attends routine deliveries at the primary health facility level, and ensures that effective referral systems are in place during emergencies.

Donors & Partners


John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation