From Manchester to Afghanistan February 2016
Early this month a short train journey took me from London to Manchester, England where I was invited by Professor Tina Lavendar and Yana Richens, Editors of the British Journal of Midwifery, to deliver a keynote at the 14th national conference of the British Journal of Midwifery. The conference theme was Current Issues in Midwifery: Optimising Women's Experiences and Outcomes and my speech focused on the Global perspective on normality. It had been some time since I visited Manchester and it was lovely to meet ‘old’ colleagues and have the opportunity to introduce the ICM to midwives I was meeting for the first time. In my presentation I talked about global perspectives on normality and that it will remain an agenda item for the next fifteen years and midwives globally must be prepared to capture the opportunities.
Afghanistan 11-17 February
The ICM was invited by the government of Afghanistan to present the Midwifery Services Framework. This was made possible under the leadership of Dr. Nasratullah Ansari, Chief of Party HEMAYAT, Country Director Jhpiego and Sheena Currie, Maternal Health Advisor Jhpiego who instigated this meeting.
This created an opportunity to visit the Afghan Midwives Association (AMA) and meet its many wonderful members. I travelled to Kabul with Pashtoon Zyaee, ICM Technical Midwife Advisor and founder of the AMA, and received a warm welcome at the airport by President Feroza Mushtari, Vice-President, Masooma Jaffry and Amina Sultani, Treasurer.
We were joined the following day by Petra ten Hoope, ICM Consultant. We were hosted at the AMA office, where AMA Executive Members, midwives and students from 24 Afghanistan provinces dressed in cultural attire welcomed us warmly There were presentations and demonstrations of the tremendous work being done by the association. A surprise social event in the evening treated us to an authentic Afghan treat of cultural entertainment, delicious food and handicraft.
On Sunday we gathered at the Ministry of Public Health for the Midwifery Services Framework Introductory meeting attended by representatives from various ministries including, Education, Women’s Affairs, Labour, Policy & Planning, Public Health and partner organisation’s like the UN agencies, USAID Health and Nutrition Office. The meeting was chaired by Minister of Public Health, Dr. Ferozuddin Feroz, who announced that the government would implement the framework and appointed Dr. Dawood Azimi, General Director of Policy and Planning as chair of the implementation taskforce.
As you know security is a major concern in Afghanistan, however the security logistics and personnel were superb and I felt safeguarded and protected at every step of the journey.
On the last day I was invited to attend the Board meeting of the Afghan Midwives Association Executive and learnt of the challenges they currently face and listened to discussion on possible solutions by this resilient association.
AMA Executive Committee with ICM representatives Pashtoon Zayee (Technical Midwife Advisor and Frances Day-Stirk (President) L to R Masooma (V-P), Hellay, Farzana (Executive Officer), Pashtoon (ICM), Feroza (President), Frances (ICM), Amina (Treasurer), Shakila, Najeeba, Zainab (YML), Zaiba-Muzari