Written by ICM Young MIdwife Leader (YML), Ashu Martha
Ashu Martha represented ICM at the Women Deliver 2023 Conference which held from 17th of July to the 20th of July 2023 in Kigali, Rwanda.
She is a Registered Midwife and Young Midwife Leader from Cameroon doing a great job in curbing the drop out rate of Midwives from the Profession.
This mega event had over 6,000 attendees of different works of life from all around the world. The opening ceremony held on Monday 17th July, 2023 where the participants were warmly welcomed by H.E President Paul Kagame and his wife, The First Lady of Rwanda. The conference had different sessions running simultaneously everyday and so it was in the hands of the participants to chose which to attend with the help of the WD application.
Martha attended mostly events on Maternal and Child health, Bodily autonomy and Gender equity in Health.
On Thursday 20th July, 2023 Martha was one of the panelists during the concurrent session on A STRONG HEALTH WORKFORCE FOR WOMEN: ACCOUNTABILITY FOR COMMITMENTS. She boldly spoke on the setbacks her country’s Midwifery sector is facing and explained that most midwives drop out as a result of lack of orientation and even role models in the profession, low consideration of Midwifery in Government policy, High apathy towards the Midwife Association and the poor renumeration of Midwives.
For Accountability measures, she stated the following To address the insufficient knowledge of midwifery career prospects, we have started orientation sessions with midwifery students in Universities to boost their interest to avoid drop-out upon graduation. The project is my YML seed-funded initiative by ICM with support from the Johnson & Johnson Foundation where we recently brought together over 185 student midwives from 10 universities in 2 regions of Cameroon. Our aspirations are to increase the frequency and spread of this sessions to touch all universities offering midwifery in Cameroon.
To get autonomy and increase the prominence of midwifery in government policy, Cameroon’s midwifery association popularly known by its French acronym ASFAC has been on a advocacy project for the last 3 years aimed getting full independence for midwifery in the country. This project if successful will provide a huge platform for midwives to express themselves and get the right government attention and support.
To reduce apathy, the midwifery association equally organizes a yearly event around the international day of the midwife which seeks to increase membership and strengthen policy advocacy in the country.
To address work overload, government increased the number of midwives recruited into public hospitals yearly to 150 from 100 in 2021. Though this remains insignificant to the 1:20 staffing ratio for midwives, it is some progress that shows a bright future for midwifery in Cameroon.
The take home message she left for the audience is to INVEST IN MIDWIVES as they have the ability to reduce 90% of maternal deaths.
The conference ended with a closing ceremony where commitments were made and everyone left determined to make a change in their respective communities.
Overall, Martha had a great time networking and sharing ideas.