August in Ghana and India - Celebrating & Strengthening Midwifery
The first two weeks of August meant travel to Africa, for a midwife association celebration, and then to the South East Asia for a WHO meeting on strengthening midwifery.
The Ghana Registered Midwives Association (GRMA), the first sub-Saharan Midwifery Association to join the ICM in 1954, celebrated their 80th anniversary and the 10th biennial conference in the week of 3-6th August. I was delighted to be invited to give the keynote address and to share the platform with GRMA President, Joyce Jethuah, President of the Republic of Ghana H.E. John Darmani Mahama, Minster of Health, Hon Alex Segbefia, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Director of Nursing and Midwifery. Dr Jemima Dennis-Antwi, ICM Board Member and tribal and religious leaders were also in attendance.
Approximately 250 midwives, students, government officials, as well as development partners and sponsors participated in the ceremony. I was also able to meet with young midwives, facilitated by Dr. Dennis-Antwi, and two executives of GRMA to ascertain what they knew about the ICM and discuss their opinions on midwifery and their future career in Ghana.
It was a pleasure to bring congratulations to the oldest African Member Association, whilst urging the leadership to consider the future: enhancement of the association membership, a focus on respectful care and the six political lessons.
No sooner had I returned from Accra I quickly flew to New Delhi, India for the South-East Asia Regional Meeting on Strengthening Midwifery to Improve Maternal and Newborn Health organised by Dr Prakin Suchaxaya, Coordinator Gender, Equity and Human Rights, WHO SEARO. Participants included delegations from Bangladesh, Bhutan, DPR Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myamnar, Nepal, Timor-Leste and Thailand. Two Midwife Associations – Indonesia and Timor-Leste - were included in their country delegations.
As a Temporary Adviser to the WHO Region, I was invited to deliver the keynote address. Two ICM Board members from the Asia-Pacific Region, Sue Bree and Mary Kirk, also participated in panel presentations and work group discussion on the Roadmap for strengthening midwifery to improve maternal and newborn health in the South East Asian Region 2015-2020.
It was a very productive meeting and ICM looks forward to further work with the SEARO region to strengthen midwifery to improve the health of women and babies in the region.