How the International Definition of the Midwife helped in Indonesia

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Mitra Kadarsih one day received a call for help from her midwife friends in the Sekayu Regional Government Hospital in South Palembang, Sumatra, Indonesia. They were experiencing a problem in their hospital: nurses were being called midwives and started to take over the work of midwives. It is a problem many other midwives in Indonesia have, explains Mitra, who is a lecturer in the academy of midwifery, a master student of midwifery, and a practicing midwife in her home in Jakarta, Indonesia. However, her friends in South Palembang, hundreds of Kilometers away from the capital, were not prepared to let it go and they decided to fight for proper recognition of their profession. When they tried to explain to nurses and doctors what midwives are, they were told: “If you have your own standards, show them to us”. It was then, when Mitra, who had been an ICM Facebook Fan for years, decided to contact ICM for advice. After receiving the International Definition of the Midwife and other core documents such as the Essential Competencies for Midwifery Practice, she and her friends sat down to study the documents. Mitra facilitated the process for a better understanding as not all her friends speak English. Three days later, when the hospital committee gathered in a meeting, the midwives were able to show them the definition of the midwife from ICM as evidence that there was an international document describing what a midwife is and does. “We are different from nurses and Ob/Gyns; we are our own profession and we provide a unique care for mothers and babies”, says Mitra proudly. In the end the committee accepted the uniqueness of midwifery. The success on the regional level is one step in a much bigger process that will ensure a more accepted and recognized cadre of midwives. The midwives in Indonesia are currently working on reforming their education to clearly meet the standards for ICM. “We will join hand in hand with ICM to make midwifery in general and education in particular better and acknowledge that Indonesian midwives have the same quality as midwives internationally” expresses Mitra her hopes for the future.

Indonesian midwives