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Back 23 July 2013

Mission to improve the quality of care and reduce mortality

3rd ICM Africa Regional Conference

The 3rd ICM Africa Regional Conference in Nairobi was opened by a keynote speech of the ICM President Frances Day-Stirk. Her speech was motivating and encouraging and even moved some in the audience to tears. She addressed the opportunities and challenges facing midwives of the continent and called on midwives and midwives assocition to influence and highlight the role of midwives in maternal and newborn survival and, achieving the MDGs in 2015 and beyond. She reminded the audience that maternal and child mortality is highest in Africa and that the life-saving work of midwives must be increased. However, she pointed out that from the 56 African countries only 26 are a member of ICM. 

Third Africa Regional Conference Nairobi

She emphasized the need to work together to establish - where none exist - and support existing associations to gain admission into the ICM family of Member Associations. "For we know that progressive development can be accelerated by the unity and shared capacity building of Member Associations, the efficient utilisation of each other’s unique characteristics and the development of a convergent vision which enables all to focus on a common goal." The goal is obvious – the enhancement of maternal, newborn and child health outcomes and the improvement and raising the profile of midwives and midwifery for the benefit of all – women, newborn, families and midwives.

She applauded the birth of the Confederation of African Midwives Association (CONAMA) as an important forum to work together and supporting each other for strong midwifery. Frances congratulated the new president of the CONAMA, Grace Omoni and her Board. She reminded the audience that this conference and the birth of CONAMA provides the perfect opportunity for progressive development. Seize it! "This will not happen without education, without research without collaboration and partnership, without accountability without solidarity, without leadership". Frances proceeded to explain each of these topics, education, research, partnership and leadership. She called on the midwives of Africa to ride the waves of opportunity the CONAMA has created and to "unite, to form long-term partnerships,  to advocate with policy makers on a range of levels with an aim of addressing inequality in health and access to health care for women to have access to fully qualified midwives". She concluded her speech with a Bob Marley song : "Africa Unite"

HMS Champions Training, Nairobi, Kenya

During the 3rd ICM Africa Regional Conference, 47 participants attended a one day ‘Helping Mothers Survive Bleeding After Birth’ Champions training hosted by Jhpiego and ICM in collaboration with Laerdal Global Health Foundation. Participants represented Midwives Associations, Ministries of Health, Clinical and Education Institutions, and non-governmental organizations from 19 countries across the Africa Region.MamaNatalie Training in Nairobi

The HMS training package was developed by Jhpiego in collaboration with Laerdal, ICM, UNFPA, FIGO and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The training has been designed to reinforce existing training in basic emergency obstetric and newborn care to help learners acquire the competencies required to effectively prevent deaths from postpartum haemorrhage (PPH), using MamaNatalie, an innovative simulator.

Although the training is serious, with a mission to improve the quality of care and reduce mortality, the MamaNatalie simulator brought the training to life and created a fun and enjoyable learning environment. Participants used the Action Plan to practice prevention and management of PPH. An excellent feature of the MamaNatalie is that this simulator, worn by the trainer or participant, supports practice of not only emergency skills but also the communication and essential midwifery skills, necessary for high quality care and prevention of complications.  During the one day training participants were orientated on MamaNatalie; practiced using the Action Plan and other training materials to deliver peer training; and practiced prevention and management of PPH, including safe and effective management of retained placenta, atonic uterus and bleeding from perineal tears.

HMS Workshop Nairobi

The donation of training materials by Laerdal, through their Buy One Gift One programme ensured each new HMS Champion to leave the training with a MamaNatalie and associated training materials. This will enable these new HMS Champions to undertake regular peer training and advocacy activities in their facilities, enhancing the impact of the HMS training programme on the prevention of deaths from post partum haemorrhage in their own countries.

Regional Planning Meeting

Before the 3rd ICM Africa Regional Conference started in Nairobi, ICM held a regional planning meeting bringing stakeholders of maternal and child health to one table. ICM felt, this meeting was important as there are many organization working with the same aim: to save the lives of women and children and collaboration is important to maximise efforts and resources. To reach this important goal, it is imperative that everyone involved knows what is being done where, and more importantly, what is being left undone. At the regional and national level efforts to improve maternal and child health require further strengthening. It is necessary to create mechanisms for communication, develop linkages and synergies, collaborate and partner with other stakeholders, join efforts to advocate for policy change and increase the credibility and likelihood of positive results.
The expected outcomes of this fruitful meeting were:

  • Shared regional plan for all stakeholders
  • Understanding of the contribution of each organization
  • Creating a working environment of mutual support
  • Enhancing the collaboration between ICM, CONAMA and key MNCH stakeholders
  • Increasing effectiveness to improve MNCH and maximise resources and efficiency

 The meeting was a great success with its interactive group work, sharing of plans for 2013 and identfying priorities for future work and necessary support. It was agreed that a shared plan of regional activities would be circulated by ICM with participants to enable the document to inform future planning and programming.This shared vision for maternal, newborn and child health in the Africa region was shared during the opening plenary of the regional conference which started on Wednesday July 17th 2013.

The Birth of CONAMA

The day before, the Confederation of African Midwives Associations (CONAMA) was born after a long process of preparation. Everything started in 2007 at the ICM Regional Conference in Ghana when under the chairmanship of Kathryn Ababio (Ghana), delegates made a strong call for efforts to establish the Confederation to advocate for the maternal, newborn and child health. the call for action was brought to the table at the next Regional Conference in 2010 hosted by the Ugandan Midwives Association. 

Conama Board

At the conference, deliberations again ignited delegates’ convictions that it was time to constitute an umbrella body to advocate for better policies and fiscal allocations for MNCH. A taskforce was consequently constituted. ICM through its IMP and Ipas provided technical and administrative support over the past three years to finalise finalise the constitutional and administrative guidelines for establishing CONAMA. This 3rd ICM Africa Regional Conference is therefore special and significant because 15th July, 2013 set the historical reference for the birthing and inauguration of CONAMA. It is historical for the midwives of Africa, the women and newborns of Africa and casts a shining beam of promise and leadership in midwifery. At the birth of CONAMA delegates from 30 Countries were present : 

Zimbabwe, Zambia, Nigeria, Swaziland Zanzibar, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Lesotho, Sudan, Liberia, South Sudan, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Benin Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Madagascar, DRC, Congo Brazzaville, Tanzania, Chad, Gabon, Uganda Burundi, Ethiopia, South Africa, Rwanda.

Proceedings for the launch of the CONAMA: 
First the constitution was presented and adopted with suggested amendments. Second an organogram was presented and adopted with amendments and third a logo was presented, which was considered as work in progress to be finalized by the incoming Board.

The election of the Board was the next step. 11 Board members were elected by ballot, two board members per region. The continent was divided into five regions: North, South, East West and Central. The following were elected:

North: Mary Rose JUWA OF South Sudan and Leila Ali of Sudan
South: David Mbewe of Zambia and Fransica Mapitso Mastoha of Lesotho
East: Asther Teshome of Ethiopia and Nkanira Bernadette of Burundi
West: Rose Agbi of Nigeria and Fatounatou Moulaye of Mauritania
Central: Marie Claire Omnyondo of DRC and Meuki Ella Justine of Gabon

Counting of the votes for Board electionThe next step was the election of the Executive Committee. Grace Omoni was elected President. She had been the chairperson of the CONAMA Task Force and thus had been very much involved in the preparations preceeding the launch of the CONAMA. Fatoumatou Maulaye was elected Vice President. Because there is no Secretary General yet, David Mbewe former Secretary of the Task Force was elected Secretary of the Executive. Rose Agbi was elected Treasurer. All excitedly accepted their new positions.

The first Council was constituted. This was made up of two members from each association present (60 delegates in total). Where countries have two midwives associations, each contributed one member to Council. The first meeting of this newly constituted council will take place on the 16th in the evening. 

Other bodies were also formed such as the the standing committees for Education, Regulation, Ethics and  Professional Practice and Research. An ad hoc committee might be put together to facilitate some of the processes to strengtrhen CONAMA existence.

The day was well organized and exceptionally facilitated by the two Board Members Deliwe Nyathikazi and Laurence Monteiro. None of the anticipated difficult issues arose as the house was put into positive working mood at the very beginning. Issues were thoroughly discussed and explanations clearly articulated in both languages – French and English. This gave a very equitable environment for interactions and contributions from all present. Congratulations Africa for a job well done!

It has been decided that in three years time, in 2016 the CONAMA congress will be hosted by the Midwives Association of Lesotho. 

Report by Nester T. Moyo, ICM Senior Technical Midwife Advisor, Zoe Vowles, ICM Technical Midwife Advisor, and Dr Jemima A.Dennis-Antwi, ICM Regional Advisor for Anglophone Africa

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