Back 19 November 2012

Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Midwifery Collaborative

The Inaugural Middle East and North African (MENA) Regional Midwifery Workshop was held over 19-20 November 2012 in Dubai, UAE. The brain child of Dr Atf Gherissi and former ICM Director Judith Brown, the workshop was supported by the President, Vice-President and other members of the Midwives Section of the Emirates Nursing Association. Technical and moral support came from the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), with UNFPA providing financial assistance to several participants who deliberated on regional strategies and actions necessary to strengthen midwifery and the work of midwives in the MENA region.
ICM President Frances Day-Stirk and Secretary General Agneta Bridges facilitated several workshops which focussed on the ICM key pillars of Education, Regulation and Association. The workshop agreed a Declaration which was launched at the 5th UEA Annual Midwifery Conference and read to participants by Jane Abdulali, President, Midwives Section, Emirates Nursing Council and Dr Grace Edwards, Vice-President.
Declaration 2012 (Dubai UAE)
We, the 52 Delegates from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) midwifery region attending from 14 countries including Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Puntland, Somalia, Somaliland, Sudan, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen, met in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, for the MENA Inaugural Midwifery Workshop, from 19 to 20 November 2012 and deliberated on regional strategies and actions necessary to strengthen midwifery and the work of midwives in the MENA region.

In order to gain insight and understand the situation of midwives and maternity care in the MENA region and the role that midwives have in improving maternity services and health care for women globally, delegates at the conference were mindful of the State of the World’s Midwifery 2011 report launched during the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) Triennial Congress, Durban, South Africa, 2011.

The idea to initiate this workshop grew out of a number of scenarios and relationships. One of these was the expressed belief of the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) the global midwifery organisation, that midwives and midwifery will be at different levels of development in different countries and regions, but all will need the collective force of their profession to achieve their individual and collective and strategic goals.

Midwives and their supporters realised the possibility of a forum and workshop, convened within the region, where the “collective force” of midwives and their respective and supportive delegations from the MENA Region, could be unleashed to develop a sustainable and dynamic regional strategic plan for the strengthening of midwifery and midwifery services In the report, key international maternal and reproductive health partners acknowledged that although MDG 5 and MDG 4 remain the least developed of the Millennium Development Goals, global action has been accelerated to improve maternal health and reduce child mortality.

While countries identified in the United Nations Secretary General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health (and others with high maternal and newborn mortality) are being researched or assisted in various forms, such as Morocco, Djibouti, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, there remains many countries within the Arab region, where although midwifery services exist, the midwives face many issues and challenges related to education, regulation, lack of distinct professional associations, leadership development and support . These countries include; Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Libya, Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Palestine.

Regardless of the indicators, in the MENA region, midwives face similar challenges such as low status of women, gender issues and workplace domination. In addition, in many of these countries, child-bearing women and their midwives are currently experiencing unimaginable stress and hardships due to the turmoil and trauma of revolution and war.

Delegates to the workshop participated in a situational analysis on the major assets, opportunities and threats to identify the strategies necessary to advance midwifery in the region.

Following consensual agreement by all delegates the following strategic goals were devised for deliberation, adaptation and implementation at the Local, National and Regional levels:

• Supporting the development and strengthening of MENA midwifery associations in collaboration with ICM

• Standardization of midwifery education using the ICM global standards for midwifery education

• Formation of midwifery collaborations, support networks and partnerships across the MENA regions

• Implementation of statutory regulatory bodies and strengthening those already in existence

• Implementation of a standardized approach to educating midwifery teachers in the MENA region.

• The development of a MENA regional resource centre for midwifery.

Therefore we resolve to:
• collaborate and work in partnership across the MENA region
• strengthen education, regulation and Midwifery associations across the MENA region in accordance with ICM guidelines
• work with communities, especially with women to promote the work of the midwife and its value for women and the health of their babies
• develop strategies for the recruitment, retention and remuneration of midwives.
• establish a Regional Midwifery Resource Centre to enhance resources for midwives in different languages and E resources
• improve midwifery education faculties in accordance with ICM standards and country needs
• establish strong, independent Midwifery Associations
• build midwifery leadership capacity
• adopt the ICM midwifery scope of practice for all MENA countries
• commit to the development of the MENA Region Midwives Association collaboration support the ICM statement that the rights of women and children should be protected in all circumstances; that it is only in peaceful situations that families can reach their full potential to the benefit of their nations. We therefore condemn all acts of war.

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