Midwives: Innovators on the front line of care

According to a study published by The Lancet, midwifery with both family planning and interventions for maternal and newborn health could avert a total of 83% of all maternal deaths, stillbirths, and neonatal deaths. 

The CMNH team

On this premise, the theme of the 31st International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) Triennial Congress held from 18th to 22nd June 2017 in Toronto was “Midwives making a difference in the world”.

The five-day congress provided a forum where more than 4,000 midwives across the globe shared experiences, knowledge and skills to enhance reproductive health of women, the health of the newborn and their families. With simple but resounding words, Frances Day-Stirk, the outgoing President of the ICM reminded the midwives gathered in Toronto that “midwives are the engine of creativity and care that can deliver for mothers, babies, and families around the world”. Midwives are potentially the facilitators—the essential link—to bring the woman into the health-care system at the most effective and efficient time and level.

The congress had over 700 peer-reviewed oral presentations and 500 posters on display, with extensive range of topics including midwifery best practice, education, leadership and research. Midwives cerebrated success, shared challenges together and discussed on how to translate the ambitious United Nations Sustainable Development goals into frontline application for midwives.

From CMNH, Dr Florence MgawadereMs Olivia HillDr Mselenge Mdegela and Ms Clara Burton hosted a symposium funded by Johnson & Johnson (J&J). The team presented on the provision and quality of emergency obstetric care in Nigeria (funded by J&J), CMNH’s quality improvement training packages for midwives while introducing CMNH’s new ANC/PNC training package and tools.Dr Mdegela providing a demonstration

Joy Marini (Global Director, J&J) said that it was “excellent” and the LSTM speakers “managed to take what could have been a very technical presentation and make it passionate and engaging”.

Her excellency Mrs. Toyin Saraki founder and CEO of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, Nigeria spoke passionately about maternal and newborn care and how the “LSTM EmOC and quality improvement training has impacted on maternal survival in Nigeria”.

In her closing remarks, Franka Cadée the newly elected ICM President encouraged midwives to take action now and “humanise midwifery care”.

Midwifery is a vital solution to the challenges of providing high-quality maternal and newborn care for all women and newborn babies in all countries. It is high time governments consider investing and expanding the midwifery workforce to improve the health of the mother and the newborn.

About the author
Dr Florence Mgawadere is a Senior Research Associate at the Centre for Maternal and Newborn Health, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, and a specialist quality improvement in MNH.