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Nepalese Midwife Receives International Award

Jhpiego, a global health nonprofit affiliated with Johns Hopkins University,  presented the international Award for Outstanding Contribution to Midwifery to Maiya Manandhar of Nepal in ceremonies Tuesday, June 21, at the International Confederation of Midwives’ 29th Triennial Congress in Durbin, South Africa.

Manandhar,  a nursing supervisor, senior hospital nursing administrator and skilled birth trainer, was selected from a competitive group of nominations that were solicited from the World Health Organization (WHO), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), and the International Confederation of Midwives.

In a country where, according to USAID, nearly 7,000 women and girls die each year due to pregnancy related complications, Manandhar has pledged to help and support women during childbirth and in the care of their newborns. The 53-year-old nursing supervisor and midwife entered into the field after witnessing her own mother’s experiences with painful and difficult pregnancies without skilled birth attendants.

Manandhar played a critical role in establishing a birthing center at Paropakar Maternity and Women’s Hospital in Nepal’s capital of Kathmandu that offers focused, comprehensive care to pregnant women with complications.  The birthing center provides care to 600-700 women a month and is open around the clock.  Additionally, Manandhar coordinates the training of hundreds of skilled birth attendants each year who then provide pregnancy and delivery services to women in rural parts of Nepal.

“I am honored to receive such a prestigious award and am thankful for Jhpiego for recognizing the hard work of midwives around the world,” said Manandhar.

The Award for Outstanding Contribution to Midwifery recognizes the work of midwives in low-resource settings and is given to a midwife who has made an extraordinary effort in a developing nation, specifically in training midwives, educating communities, advocating for and implementing evidence-based midwifery care and innovating to save lives.  As part of the award, Jhpiego provides U.S. $5,000 to the recipient to support his or her work in their community.

Manandhar says she will use the prize money from the award to enhance and support midwifery training in Nepal and cited several examples:  support the recently-formed Midwifery Association of Nepal where she serves as treasurer; help train midwives working in birthing centers throughout the country; pay for complimentary feeding for babies of HIV positive women who do not want to breast feed; and form a support group and provide counseling for mothers who have lost children.