In April, members of the Midwives’ Association of Zambia (MAZ) and Midwifery Services Framework (MSF) project stakeholders participated in an advocacy workshop, facilitated by staff of the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM). The workshop, organised collaboratively by ICM and MAZ, was part of the implementation of the MSF and aimed to build the advocacy capacity of MAZ and MSF stakeholders.
Note: The Midwifery Services Framework is a systemic approach that serves to develop and strengthen Sexual Reproductive Maternal Newborn and Child Health (SRMNH) services at a national level. It is a step-by-step, evidence-based approach, which supports a midwife-led model of care that provides effective, efficient, and desirable women-centred services.
ICM Advocacy Lead Faridah Luyiga and ICM Communications Lead Rebecca Dahl facilitated the two-day-long workshop, which provided participants with an in-depth knowledge of health policy advocacy and relevant communications tactics. The overall objective of the workshop was to introduce components of an advocacy strategy and show participants how to apply them to drive change for midwives and midwifery in Zambia.
The workshop brought together midwifery leaders, advocates, and stakeholders from across Zambia to discuss and develop strategies for advocating for the needs of midwives and improving the quality of midwifery services in the country. Participants included representatives from MAZ, ICM, MSF, the Zambian Ministry of Health, non-governmental organizations, and academia.
“The Stakeholder Advocacy Workshop was a resounding success,” said Kennedy Mwila, Resource Mobilisation Officer for MAZ. “Participants left the workshop with increased knowledge and skills in advocacy and a renewed commitment to advancing the needs of midwives and improving the quality of midwifery services in Zambia.”
The facilitators provided practical guidance and insights on how to develop and implement effective advocacy strategies for key midwifery priorities in Zambia.
“We are optimistic that the participants will apply the knowledge and skills gained from the workshop to advocate for improvements in midwifery workforce, regulation, leadership, education and maternal health services and enhance the quality of care for women and newborns in the country,” said ICM Advocacy Lead Faridah Luyiga.
The completion of the advocacy workshop comes just months after Zambian Minister of Health, Hon. Sylvia T. Masebo MP, outlined a commitment to ensuring women have access to well-trained and well-regulated midwives within the country’s newly launched 2022-26 National Health Strategic (NHS) Plan.
ICM, MAZ and the Ministry of Health have been working together to conduct workshops and trainings that create capacity within Zambia and to develop ‘MSF Champions,’ whose role is to orient SRMH stakeholders about MSF priorities and support the government officials in embedding them in health policies. Under the second strategic direction of the new NHS plan, the Zambian Ministry of Health has committed to giving the MSF champions a seat within the Ministry of Health’s technical working groups. The MSF Champions will leverage these newly appointed positions to advocate for MSF priorities and ensure that health systems in Zambia are redesigned to accommodate a women-centred approach, whereby pregnant women are attended by motivated midwives and responsive leadership at health facility, hospital, district, provincial, and national levels.
MSF Champion for Midwifery Education, Mrs. Brenda Zulu Tembo, said she found the workshop to be impactful, and she considers the skills she learned to be applicable to her advocacy for midwifery education in Zambia.
“My greatest wish is that with high-quality, regulated midwifery education, all midwifery services in our setting can be handled by well-trained midwives,” said Mrs. Tembo. “I want to see these issues realised in our system.”
Mrs. Tembo and the rest of the MSF champions will work with other stakeholders to advance the advocacy strategies they initiated in the recent workshop, and progress toward the identified MSF priorities will be tracked and documented. As the project moves into its implementation phase, the hope is that midwife-led care facilities will be established in Zambia, and maternal mortality will be reduced by 52%.