A Promise Renewed
The conference aims to assess the child and maternal health challenges specific to the Americas and galvanize commitment to address them.
It brings together high level representatives from throughout the region to define a way forward for addressing the major child, maternal, and reproductive health inequalities that persist in the Americas. Overall, the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have made great strides in recent decades in reducing deaths of mothers, newborns, infants and children and improving access to reproductive health services. But too many women’s and children’s lives are still cut short – and many others live with permanent ill health – due to preventable causes. These tragedies are concentrated in disadvantaged and marginalized populations. Conquering the persisting inequities in reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent health in the region requires a renewed commitment and new approaches. Scale-up of evidence-based interventions and robust partnerships among public and private sector actors are among the region’s critical needs at this time and is the focus of the conference.
The objectives of the meeting are:
• Review successes and gaps in reproductive, maternal, neonatal, and child health in the region;
• Identify key scalable interventions, strategic shifts, and partnerships needed to reduce inequities; and
• Galvanize efforts to accelerate achievement of Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 in the Americas, discuss the post-Millennium Development Goal health agenda, and plan regional engagement in “A Promise Renewed,” the global movement to end preventable maternal and child deaths.
Declaration of Commitment
In order to have a binding commitment the many participants from senior-level representatives, to multilateral and bilateral organizations, civil society, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), foundations, universities, faith-based organizations, the private sector, and others have signed a declaration of commitment. This document recognizes the broad and committed partnership represented at the regional meeting and renew their promise to aim to reduce inequities in reproductive, maternal, adolescent, neonatal and child health outcomes in Latin America. The full declaration can be read here.
ICM is represented at this important regional meeting through it’s Vice President Debrah Lewis. She has picked out a personal highlight and describes it here: Besides the signing of the declaration by 26 countries the session Panel Structured Conversation was one of the most dynamic today.
A Personal Impression
Panelists responded to questions from Claudia Palacios such as "what happened in their lives to influence them to do the work they do”. Participants were polled informally as to if there was something in their lives as well that influenced them. Almost everyone's hand was raised.
Claudia's story was about her cousin, who has had 3 children by the age of 20, the first at 14 years old. When Claudia asked her cousin what she wanted to do with her life and if she was happy, the cousin replied that had done what women are supposed to do: to have children.
This conversation influenced Claudia so deeply that she was started to work on making young women understand that there is much more in life than to have children. The conversation in this panel then evolved from this personal example to inequities, access and collaboration.
Debrah's own presentation was titled "Overcoming barriers to access continuing education".
She started the discussion by clarifying the two terms "Continuing Education" and " Continuing Competence". Generally in the LAC region those two are seen as the same. However, the difference is that continuing education is a part of the requirement for continuing competence but does not guarantee it.
For her presentation Debrah had done an informal survey in this region to identify what were seen as barriers for midwives to attend continuing education. The survey revealed that there are in general three areas that are perceived as barriers:
* Access - time and cost
* Not mandatory for relicensure
* Limited use and availability of virtual technology
The presentation was well received.
On the last day of the Conference, the Civil Society Organizations present were not satisfied with the content of the Declaration of Panama. They felt that vital areas were left out. As a result they produced a document with the areas they wished to see added.
The meeting ended with the promise for a roadmap to be developed as indicated in the Agenda
In the photo from left to right: Arlene Euin, President Trinidad & Tobago Association of Midwives, Donna DaCosta Martinez, Executive Director Family Planning Association, and Debrah Lewis, Vice President International Confederation of Midwives.