Back 27 May 2013

Symposium: Addressing Challenges of Midwifery Care

The two-day symposium highlighted key issues and challenges in addressing midwivery service availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality of care. At the end, 29 organizations declared their committment towards midwifery. 

On Sunday the Second Global Midwifery Symposium was opened with various speeches. ICM President Frances Day-Stirk reminded the audience that it three years since the first midwifery symposium. "Time has flown quickly and we gather here to renew, revisit and re-commit to working together to improve the lives of women and achieve MDGs 5 and 4."

ICM President Frances giving a speechShe welcomed all participants on behalf of the ICM and expressed how pleased ICM is to be co-hosting the Second Global Midwifery Symposium with partners UNFPA, Jhpiego and WHO. "The 'Call to Action' galvanised us all in recognising the importance of midwives and midwifery services in the health of childbearing women and families - in the health of societies", said Frances. There has been significant progress in maternal and newborn health yet many challenges remain; this is compounded by the global economic constraints. The second midwifery symposium addresses these challenges with high level global advocacy to highlight key issues and challenges emerging from latest evidents, by sharing major results achieved and by using innovative methods to address accessibility, availability, acceptability and quality of midwifery services. Midwives are pivotal - the lynch pin - and ICM is committed to working in partnership to achieve it's vision 'a world where every childbearing woman has a midwife'. Frances said "When I say midwife I mean a competent midwife, an educated, regulated midwife for herself and her newborn". The strive to achieve the MDGs to improve maternal and newborn health continues.

Kate Gilmore the Deputy Executive Director of UNFPA gave a stimulating opening speech on behalf of Dr Babatunde, Executive Director of UNFPA. Within her speech she mentioned the need to get rid of the malignancies of discrimination and marginalisation of women and midwives which leads to the most intimate sorrow of losing a mother and baby. She said that mothers and babies who die around the time of giving birth and being borne are casualties of our choices because we know how to prevent those deaths. It is for this reason that society's collective responsibility is,  to ensure that 3.6 million lives are saved by 2015. Maternal deaths are a social condition, not a medical one. All policy makers and organisations need to  act together in functional and knowledge groupings to close all these fault lines in MNCH and SRH. It is a fact that those women who are discounted, neglected and abandoned are lost. 

Speakers at the ICM Panel

Midwives bring the  skilled accompaniment  that is required during the time of birth. They protect the child bearing and the child. The international community and all partners should realise that midwives are irreplaceable.

On Sunday afternoon, ICM facilitated the panel on Acceptability with the four speakers: Peter Johnson, Jhpiego, Betsy McCallon, White Ribbon Alliance, Sue Kildea, Australian Catholic University/Mater Mothers Hospital and Rafat Jan, Associate Professor, Director Midwifery Programme at the Aga Khan University. Read more about the Panel here.


On Monday the Symposium came to an end with ICM President Frances Day-Stirk giving her closing remarks for the symposium. “I am a qualified nurse. I am a qualified Midwife. I identify myself as a midwife. I am one of those privileged people who are dually qualified in two professions both capable of saving lives.“ However, she went on to say that the world should not confuse the two. Nursing and Midwifery are two distinct professions. Acknowledging one does not  make the other less important. But: "Midwifery is a whole separate profession based on a very distinct philosophy with a whole unique body of knowledge." For this reason, Frances recommended governments who are developing midwifery, that they should be assisted to appreciate the difference and make the right choices for the benefit of their women and children.Frances closed the symposium by urging all partners to work together to provide women with the skilled accompaniment that will save women and new-borns. She thanked all present for their contributions.

Kate Gilmore, Executive Director UNFPA, closed the symposium with a moving speech where she reiterated her word saying that the world knows what is needed to save women's lives. It is now a question of putting everything into action to make this happen. Her key messages were: Give midwives what they need to succeed and ensure the dignity of women and girls. Midwives are the front and centre line health workers and it is not possible to reach the MDGs without them. They are change agents. Therefore midwives skills are needed for the next development agenda. They should be a strong part of the global compact for development because organisations are brand names. It is the people that matter. We are all in a movement to save lives. 

Partners signing the declaration of commitment

At the end of the second day the participants declared their commitment  to champion the provision of widely available, accessible, acceptable and high quality midwifery services. 29 organizations signed the declaration thereby calling on governments, public and private sector partners to invest, educate, deploy in the right places, be woman centered, regulate, support and improve the evidence. Read the full declaration here


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