Midwifery matters: Improving midwifery education and research to save the lives of women and infants worldwide

News article 28 Mar 2018
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Hannah McCauley, a midwife and Senior Research Associate working in the Centre for Maternal and Newborn Health (CMNH) attended two midwifery focused meetings at the World Health Organization from 21st – 23rd March. The themes of the two events were ‘Asking different questions: Research priorities to help every child to survive, thrive, and transform’ and ‘Strengthening Quality Midwifery Education 2030’.

The meetings brought together global leaders, researchers, advocates and funders to strategize action to improve the quality of midwifery research and education globally. The technical working group developed a draft Global Strengthening Midwifery Education Action Plan 2016–30. This included developing intensive, sustainable collaborations between education programmes, practice settings and government systems, and developing a monitoring and evaluation plan. One of the key objectives of the meeting was to provide clarification of leadership roles and responsibilities for key partners at global, regional and country levels.

The team of experts, which included Professor Nynke van den Broek (Head of CMNH, a WHO Collaborating Centre for Research), also contributed to plans to organise collective efforts to deliver the findings of the three research priorities in maternal and newborn health, identified from the Lancet Series in Midwifery 2014. The Lancet Series on Midwifery sets out the evidence base for what women and newborns need, and states that midwifery has a crucial part to play in saving the lives of millions of women and children who die during and around the time of pregnancy.  

As a research centre that specialises in implementation research, CMNH is in a unique position to develop, implement and evaluate educational interventions aimed at midwives and other cadres of healthcare providers caring for women during and after pregnancy. Hannah is currently undertaking a Global mapping of midwives and other cadres of healthcare providers providing antenatal and postnatal care, and of existing education materials which is a recommendation of The Global Strategy for Human Resources for Health: Workforce 2030 action plan.

The technical working group will continue to meet regularly to achieve the targets that have been set. The Global Strategy for Women’s, Newborn’s and Adolescent’s Health 2016-30 has stated that 2019 will be the year that focuses on Midwifery as an essential component to improve the health of women and newborns globally.

Hannah McCauley:
“The amazing midwives, nurses, obstetricians, paediatricians, donors and advocates who attended the meetings intend to work collaboratively to ensure that improving midwifery education and research remains at the forefront of the global health agenda. This will enable us to strive to attain the highest standard of health for all women, children and adolescents – to transform the future and ensure every newborn, mother and child not only survives, but thrives.”