Congress Opening Ceremony
Sunday, June 1st: Today marked the start of the 30th ICM Triennial Congress held in Prague, with an impressive Multi Faith Celebration right before the official Opening Ceremony. It included music, dancing, and contributions from different faiths. It was a time for reflection and celebration of midwifery with colleagues from many faiths, at a unique gathering of the world’s midwives.
The Opening Ceremony started with a beautiful and heartfelt performance of The Czech Republic National Anthem, sung by little Terezka from Czech Radio Children's Choir. The audience was astonished by her wonderful voice. Afterwards, the flag ceremony took place - an impressive celebration of colours, cultures, and countries. It was amazing to see so much enthusiasm and cheer as each national flag was carried on the stage by the representatives from 102 ICM Member Associations. Truly an international gathering of midwives from all over the world! A traditional Czech folklore entertaining performance followed, by the Rosenka group - domestically and internationally recognized ensemble.
To celebrate 30 years of ICM congresses, the Czech midwives had put together a video and took the audience down memory lane. Photos since 1919 were showcased and gave a glimpse of the past. In her welcome address ICM President, Frances Day-Stirk called the 30th ICM Triennial Congress an inspirational one. She welcomed those attending the ICM congress for the first time, as well as the student midwives - future of the profession. ‘We are here because we want to be effective agents of change! Investing in midwives results in improved health, stronger societies, and productive economies’, said Frances. She added that ‘our collective tolerance, understanding and knowledge, are key elements to create global change for midwives and midwifery care. If we all take one idea back from Prague to our countries and implement it, we will play a part in global change’. Afterwards, she presented Johnson and Johnson with an award in recognition of their contribution to the ICM 30th Triennial Congress.
Havelka Sisters awed the audience with songs from the early swing era, full of rhythm, dance, and inspiration. Another highlight of the event was the presentation of the Marie Goubran Award by the ICM Chief Executive, Frances Ganges, to Kingsley Musama. This was the first time ever that the award was presented to a male midwife! Kingsley is a midwife at Chikwa Rural Health Centre in Chama district, Zambia. He introduced many positive changes in maternal and child health leading to his clinic being chosen as the best in the Chama district for two consecutive years.
Furthermore, Frances Day-Stirk introduced Toyin Saraki as the ICM Inaugural Global Goodwill Ambassador. In her speech, Her Excellency Mrs Saraki emphasized the importance of midwives in meeting the MDGs. 'We must tackle the global midwife deficit to tackle maternal mortality' said Mrs Saraki. She concluded her speech with a Nigerian proverb: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. It is my prayer that together with ICM, we will be able to go both fast and far’.
A stunning acrobatic performance by Duo Ogor amazed the audience, who couldn't believe their eyes! It was followed by a welcome address from the Czech Ministry of Health, Alena Smidova. The Hradistan Dulcimer Band introduced the audience to traditional Southern Czech folk tunes. The evocative and soul touching sounds were loved by the audience, who happily applauded the band. The ceremony closed with a performance led by the Czech, Canadian, and South African midwives, who sang Bob Marley's One Love along with over 3000 midwives who attended the Opening Ceremony.
Another highlight of the day was the launch of the new ICM/Laerdal fundraising campaign, right after the Opening Ceremony. ICM and Laerdal have joined hands to help save 10,000 mothers and newborns in Zambia and Malawi - and make 10,000 more happy birthdays! Both organizations have pledged to run the campaign and raise $1.500.000 to promote the Helping Mothers Survive Bleeding After Birth programme. 'This is a good opportunity for Zambia, we have a very high maternal mortality, many women are dying of postpartum haemorrhage and a lot of babies are dying in the first week of birth. As an association we are so proud to be part of this and we are looking forward to train midwives and to save women’s lives', said Genevieve Tororo Musokwa, President of the Zambian Association of Midwives. Frances Day-Stirk, ICM President, added: 'I hope this will turn into a global and not just a two-country initiative, I really hope we will get more partners on board and take this forward'.
Around the 10,000 Happy Birthday cake: from left Address Malata, President Malawi Association of Midwives, Genevieve Musokwa, President Zambia Association of Midwives, Frances Ganges Chief Executive ICM, Tore Laerdal, Laerdal Global Health and Frances Day-Stirk. President ICM.