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Back 15 July 2015

Midwives Making Policy

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Midwives are often left out by governments as they make plans for the midwifery workforce. Yet a recent study conducted alongside The State of the World’s Midwifery 2014 recognises the important role of Midwifery Associations could and sometimes do have in workforce planning.

This survey by ICM of its Member Associations focused on the involvement of midwives in national policy and workforce development. The findings show that planning processes to determine the provision of reproductive, maternal and newborn health are mainly centralized at the Ministry of Health (94.5%) level and involve different institutions and stakeholders, including Midwifery Associations.

The process by which governments estimate the number of midwives required to provide midwifery services is overall determined at national level as part of the plan for reproductive, maternal and newborn health  (63.0%), of the Health plan development (57.5%) or as part of the plan for all human resources for health (52.1%).

However, this trend is mostly observed in low- and middle-income countries (above 60% vs. 40% in high-income countries). Yet the basis on which governments estimate the number of midwives needed remains unclear.

Overall this study shows that Midwifery Associations are usually involved in the decision-making process for midwifery services, but it also indicates that Midwives Associations are often excluded from the full planning and policy development process of the midwifery workforce due to their lack of access and capacity to use evidence-based information.

These are the report’s key recommendations:

  1. Increase capacity of Midwifery Associations to participate in the policy dialogue and influence decision-making through evidence-based information and knowledge.
  2. Involve ICM as the main capacitor and promoter of data and evidence used by Midwifery Associations to inform policy decisions and workforce development.
  3. Involve other partners from national and international levels.
  4. Raise awareness about the midwifery implications for universal health coverage.
  5. Use the Post-2015 momentum to raise global awareness.

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