"Midwives are practitioners of their own right"
During a five-day workshop in Zimbabwe with the Zimbabwean Midwives Association (ZIMCOM) and the Midwives Association of South Sudan, ICM discussed approaches on respectful maternity care and unintended pregnancies. On the first day, the director for community nursing and midwifery from South Sudan, Ms Chuwa, talked about the history of the country and the challenges midwives face under such circumstances. A few years ago, there were only 19 midwives in the country, now there are 13 schools for midwifery. However, after the independence the council for medical personel was not re-established. The scope of practice is defined by the schools and also includes Family Planning.
Zimbabwe has seen similar challenges but has been able to work through them. They now have a fully functioning and independent council, which ensures that midwives can only work when they are registered. ZIMCOM has adapted the ICM Definition of a Midwife and has a one year training for midwives. The scope of practice includes many methods of Family Planning practices, even vasectonomy. In fact, Zimbabwe has one of the highest rates of family planning coverage in Africa, along with 70% of women receiving all four antenatal care visits.
Deputy Director Reproductive Health in Zimbabwe, Margaret Nyandoro, said in her speech: "midwives should learn that they are practitioners of their own rights".
On the second day, Mande Limbu from the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood (WRA) gave a presentation about the importance of advocating. She pointed out that WRA is connecting community members and policy makers to make the voices of the community heard. The participants discussed the need for midwives to be recognized in the system because if they don’t exist then how can you advocate for them. A useful tool for advocacy is this video here.