Association, Leadership, South-East Asia

Fostering Innovations in Midwifery: India’s National Midwifery Conference Recap 

5 June 2024

The KLE Academy of Higher Education and Research, in collaboration with the Society of Midwives-India (SOMI) and the Trained Nurses’ Association of India (Karnataka State Branch), recently hosted an exciting conference on midwifery. Held on the 22 and 23 March at KLE’s Centenary Convention Center in Belagavi, Karnataka, the event titled “Fostering Innovations in Midwifery: Moving Forward in Maternal and Newborn Care” marked a significant milestone for midwives in India. 

Drawing inspiration from last year’s International Day of the Midwife, which emphasised the theme “Together Again: from Evidence to Reality,” the conference aimed to elevate the standards of midwifery excellence. “We were inspired to create a platform where midwives could come together, network, and share best practices,” said Asha Bhat, General Secretary of the Society of Midwives of India (SOMI) and a key organiser of the event. 

The conference was a collaborative effort, marking the first time the SOMI and the Trained Nurses’ Association of India joined forces to host an event. This partnership helped attract 586 delegates from various parts of the country, including Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, and even attendees from Southern Cross University in Australia. The event saw participation from educators, nursing and midwifery officers, practitioners, faculty members, and doctoral scholars. 

The two-day conference featured eight plenary sessions, two panel discussions, 30 poster presentations, and 55 paper presentations, all culminating in a vibrant cultural event. Notable speakers included Dr. Usha Ukande, President of SOMI, who delivered an enlightening keynote address, and Mrs. Sheetal Samson from the National Midwifery Training Institute, who highlighted the impact of midwife-led care units on natural birthing. Dr. Preeti K. Doddwad spoke about the role of NGOs in enhancing women’s health, while other experts discussed various aspects of midwifery, simulation in midwifery education, and innovations in newborn care. 

Asha Bhat expressed particular enthusiasm for the panel discussions, which she found to be the most engaging part of the event. “I was completely captivated by the sessions. The discussions were so engaging and insightful that I didn’t want to leave the room, not even to visit the stalls or take a break. This sentiment was shared by many attendees, highlighting the overall impact and success of the event,” she shared. The discussions focused on the challenges and barriers in implementing midwifery education and practice in India. Panelists addressed the difficulties midwives face in applying their training in environments that lack the necessary resources and support.” 

Reflecting on the success of the conference, Bhat offered advice to other member associations looking to host similar events: “The two most important things are to have interesting topics and engaging speakers. That mix will bring people in, regardless of where the conference is held.” 

The conference concluded with a sense of renewed energy and commitment among the participants. “The general consensus was that the event was reenergizing. We shared our thoughts and were excited to do something for midwives and midwifery. The main beneficiaries of this conference will be mothers and children,” Bhat emphasized. 

With the support of the Indian Nursing Council and the Karnataka Nursing Council, which awarded credit points for attendance, the conference not only fostered professional development but also underscored the crucial role of midwives in improving maternal and newborn care in India. The event set a high standard for future collaborations and highlighted the importance of continuous innovation and support.