Midwives Taking Action for the Health of Women and Children
Preceded by a fantastic opening ceremony with great performances by Vietnamese artists, the recent ICM Asia-Pacific Regional Conference held July 24-26, 2012 in Hanoi, Vietnam celebrated midwives and nurses for their efforts in improving women’s access to quality midwifery services and urged midwives from around the world to consider how midwifery profession meets many challenges in providing care for mothers and children.
Attended by hundreds of midwives and other reproductive health experts from 36 countries, this exciting gathering was yet another opportunity for midwives and many who work passionately to strengthen midwifery globally to exchange experiences, improve knowledge and skills and contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals 4,5, and 6, especially for those living in poverty.
This year’s theme was “For the health of women and children…Let’s take action”.
Speakers stressed human resources for health, midwifery competencies, education and regulations as key to delivering the midwifery model of care and improving the quality and standard of care. Underscoring the importance of investing in human resources and improving the status and skills of midwives, the president of ICM called for policy action and collaboration in pulling resources and working towards the common goal of recruiting, educating and retaining midwives.
While research shows that midwives save lives and an investment worth making, the use of such evidence to gain commitment of policy makers requires policy action and advocacy skills that most midwives do not necessarily possess.
In an effort to engage and strengthen capacity of midwives and midwifery professional bodies to advocate for themselves and their high value in the maternal health care systems, the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood held a targeted advocacy workshop on day two of the conference. The session focused on identifying advocacy objectives and actionable plans for institutionalization of respectful maternity care framework into maternal health care systems.
Facilitated by Theresa Shaver and Mande Limbu, the workshop brought together 30 ICM members from India, Nepal, Ghana, Bangladesh, Philippines, Iran, Afghanistan, Australia and PNG who were led to agree on one important change that is needed, within their own context, to address the problem of disrespect and abuse in childbirth, and describe an actionable advocacy plan for use in their own settings.
While participants appreciated that the workshop was informative and resourceful, and that at the end of the workshop they felt comfortable with developing advocacy objectives and definite advocacy action plans, there is still need for these kinds of sessions to enable midwives to acquire specific skills and information that enhances their ability to advocate for themselves in their own settings.
As one participant put it while commenting about the relevance of the workshop, “Repeat again and again…”