Strenghtening Midwifery in the Pacific
The workshop followed on from a meeting in Auckland, New Zealand in March of this year where association development was identified by Pacific midwives in attendance as a priority for strengthening midwifery in the Pacific.
The workshop in Samoa was attended by over 50 midwives from ten countries in the Pacific: Fiji, Samoa Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia. Mary Kirk and Sue Bree, the ICM Asia-Pacific Board members along with Rachael Lockey, ICM Technical Midwife Advisor, facilitated the workshop.
After an introduction to the three pillars of ICM: Education, Regulation and Association there was a session focussing on Midwife Associations including an introduction the Membership Association Capacity Assessment Tool (MACAT). Midwives from Solomon Islands, Fiji and Papua New Guinea gave presentations on the midwife associations in their countries and their experiences of developing them, including challenges along the way.
Later in the day small group work took place inviting countries to consider priorities and needs for their own countries and where they would like to be in 5 years’ time with regard to a midwife association. Pacific Island countries are culturally diverse and geographically isolated. For example the midwife from Tuvalu, a cluster of small islands with a population of 10,500, travelled 24hours by boat to Fiji in order to take a flight to Samoa to be present at this conference. Recognition of cultural diversity was made as well as the value of unity and strength in numbers for the Pacific countries represented in the workshop. Many of the midwives present work in challenging conditions. The midwife from Tuvalu spoke of how midwives in her country, of which three are 16, do their work in the day and are on call all evenings and weekends, for which they are just about to start being remunerated.
The workshop provided a rare opportunity for midwives of the Pacific to share and unite. The participants were all enthusiastic and clearly expressed the need for developing the midwifery profession in the Pacific as well as ensuring the Pacific is recognised on the global platform. A key outcome of the workshop was a commitment between countries to form a Pacific Midwives Society alongside association development and strengthening in individual countries. ICM will continue to have a role in offering support in achieving these goals and agreed actions.
Technical Midwife Advisor, ICM