It is increasingly surprising at how quickly one year seems to turn into another. At the beginning of 2014 the focus for ICM was on Council and Congress in Prague in the middle of the year and now the end of 2014 is in sight. And as we approach 2015 – another target year is upon us. Fifteen years have swiftly passed since the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target dates were set.
As we approach the end of 2014 I am reminded of this saying by American journalist Hal Borland: "Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instil in us".
ICM’s experiences in the last year have been vast and varied and instilled us with substantial learning and wisdom. This has been gathered from our engagements with partners, existing and new; with activities in countries with member associations and stakeholders; with involvement in publications such as the State of the World’s Midwifery Report 2014, The Lancet Series on Midwifery and the Every Newborn Action Plan to name a few.
The International Day of the Midwife 2014 subtheme "Midwives changing the world one family at a time" not only sent a strong signal to the world on the role of midwives in providing care that changes families, communities by saving the lives of mothers and babies but it also captured your hearts and spirits and many of our stakeholders.
At Council in Prague delegates elected a new Board with responsibility to steward the ICM for the next three years. This means looking closely at what the ICM does, how it does it and with and for whom, guided by the Strategic Directions 2014-2017.
The wonderful congress was made possible by your participation, energy and enthusiasm which I hope will carry us through the next three years. We formally welcomed ICM’s inaugural Global Ambassador Her Excellency Mrs Ojora Saraki, who has become a voice for midwives and midwifery, and a voice as the ICM advocate for policy changes in maternal, newborn, and reproductive healthcare.
The year has also been one of challenges. Economic crises have impacted on midwives, on member associations, and on the ICM as affected donors have reviewed the way their scarce funds are deployed.
The Ebola epidemic has struck in West Africa affecting women, babies, families and midwives in Sierrea Leone, Guinea and Liberia, three countries profiled in the State of the World's Midwifery (SoWMy). This crisis has shone a spotlight on the importance of health workers and accessible, functional health systems.
So we much capitalise on these challenges and the momentum which keeps midwives and midwifery high on the political agenda. A key message from the SoWMY Report is investing in midwifery education, with deployment to community-based services, is a “best buy” in primary health care. And I wonder whether Ebola will prompt a new perspective and a new way of establishing maternity health systems in affected countries and farther afield.
ICM has grown this year as we welcomed new member associations, just setting out on a journey of development like Fédération Nationale des Associations des Sages-Femmes et Accoucheurs aux Comores, to those celebrating 300 years of midwifery regulation like the Danish Midwives Association. This growth has seen the expansion of ICM "Twins” an effective strategy in capacity building, and we would welcome more.
As Jamie Vandergrift said: "It is not the end of the year, it is the beginning of the next chapter. Will your next chapter be a rewrite, a review or a revamp?"
The year 2015 will need concerted efforts by us all to lobby for investment in developing midwives and midwifery, in building health systems and in escalating gender equity. With your support and solidarity I am confident that 2015, the next chapter for ICM, will be a year of renewal and transformation as we work towards improved maternity care for the women, babies and families of the world.
More than ever the ICM – you and I – all our Member Associations need to work together to strengthen midwifery globally.
On behalf of the ICM Board and staff warmest greetings to all and best wishes for 2015.
ICM President Frances Day-Stirk