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'Healthy families: the key to the future' International Day of the Midwife 2008: ICM member associations have sent in reports of their activities on 5 May 2008, when the International Day of the Midwife (IDM) was celebrated.

We present a round-up of midwives' action on the International Day of the Midwife 2008:

Australia

Tasmania: This year's International Midwives Day (IMD) saw a multitude of different celebrations by midwives and women.

In Southern Tasmania a morning tea and storytelling session was held, while midwives in Northern Tasmania had afternoon tea with the Federal member for Bass, Jodie Campbell. Jodie presented each midwife with a Purple Dutch Iris.

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The North West had celebrations in both Devonport and Burnie. The Mersey Community Hospital started the day with a talk on the psychosocial aspects of pregnancy over breakfast, and a street stall was held where midwives talked to members of the community and handed out balloons. Later midwives celebrated with a dinner where Francine Douce was presented with the Tasmanian Midwifery Peer award.

Francine has had a pinnacle role in the development of a maternity service for 'rural and remote' women, which has been vital for women who would otherwise receive no or minimal care during their pregnancy due to social and financial circumstances. Francine has also taken an active role in the establishment of an emergency birthing room at the Smithton hospital and providing support and professional development opportunities to midwives working in more remote areas of Tasmania.

Burnie also celebrated breakfast and afternoon tea with the Federal member for Braddon, Sid Sidebottom, when the Johnson & Johnson Tasmanian Midwife of the Year Award was presented to Dianne Summers.

There was lots of media coverage of IMD in all the major Tasmanian newspapers.

Veronica Wood, President, Australian College of Midwives Tasmania branch

Bangladesh

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A seminar was organised by the Bangladesh Nursing Council (BNC) and supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on the occasion of the International Day of the Midwife, 5 May, 2008. This seminar was held to bring to mind the universal importance of midwives' work, what midwives stand for and the important and unique role that midwives play. It was the 3rd time ever that Bangladesh celebrated the IDM

BNC invited and received 600 participants from Government, the Directorate of Nursing Services, WHO, professional associations, NGOs and nurse/midwives. The theme throughout the presentations was that Bangladesh calls for urgent action to address the shortage of midwives. With a high maternal mortality ratio (MMR) of 297/100,000 in Bangladesh it is important that a separate cadre of midwives be set up to allow more midwives to be trained, to provide care and health service to mother and child.

There is also an acute shortage of nurse/midwives working in the antenatal, birthing units and postnatal wards, so that it is not possible to provide a service with quality. BNC calls for action to develop the existing Nurse/Midwife Workforce by providing a further six-month midwifery training to become a Certified Midwife, who will be placed only in the maternity unit. Moreover, BNC is in the process of revising regulation so that the Midwifery Act is incorporated. Development partners came forward to provide technical assistance in this regard.

In recognition of the important role midwives play in the care of women and their families before, during and after the birth of their babies; Ms. Kamerun Nessa, Jt Secretary, MOH&FW, distributed appreciation certificate together with a crest to a number of 18 Nurse/Midwives, selected from 6 divisions, for appreciation for their long and devoted time in maternal service.

The IDM closed with folk songs and a cultural programme performed by nurse/midwives, with refreshments offered to the guests.

The day was observed in the local newspapers.

Mrs. Samsun Nahar, Registrar, BNC Malin Bogren, International Programme Officer, Safe Motherhood, UNFPA, Bangladesh

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Midwives and families around the world celebrated the 2008 International Day of the Midwife with the theme of 'Healthy Families: The Key to the Future.' In Canada there is also cause to celebrate, as more and more women are cared for by the health care professional of their choice: midwives. In provinces British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and the NWT, midwifery is an integrated part of the health care system; in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Nunavut the process of regulating the profession is well underway. Considering that only 15 years ago, midwives were not legally recognised anywhere in Canada, these developments represent tremendous and positive change.

There are currently about 680 midwives working in Canada and 100 students admitted annually to university midwifery programmes--numbers that have increased by 50% in just the last three years. In a country as vast as ours, however, these numbers are still very small. The demand for women-centred healthcare far outweighs the national supply of midwives. By way of comparison, there are over 2,000 midwives in New Zealand serving a population of 4 million, and about 35,000 midwives in the UK.

In all provinces and territories where midwifery is regulated, except for Alberta, midwives' services are covered by public funding--midwifery care is free. In many communities across the country however, there are no midwives at all; and in some areas midwives are so highly in demand that 40% of women seeking their care cannot be accommodated. Canadian women need more midwives, paid by provincial healthcare dollars, and soon.

With the exodus of family physicians from the field of obstetrics, shortages of maternity care providers are a growing and serious problem. Midwives have come a long way in the past decade, but the frustrating reality remains that for many women, a choice of care provider is simply not available. Currently, midwives assist at less than 5% of births nationwide. The need for midwives, especially in rural, remote and Aboriginal communities, is acute.

A 2006 study of Canadian birth practices found that medical or surgical intervention was used in 75% of all births. This contravenes standards set by Health Canada. According to the first ever national survey of maternity experiences of women in Canada, 71% of women whose primary caregiver was a midwife rated their labour and birth experiences as "very positive". The 2007 survey is a core project of the Canadian Perinatal Surveillance System; a full report is expected in October this year. In Ontario, provincial surveys of midwifery clients have shown satisfaction rates of 98%.

Healthy families are the key to our future in Canada and around the world. Healthy families start with healthy pregnancies, joyful birth experiences and good infant care.

Provincial governments are urged to commit to a comprehensive maternity care strategy that ensures every Canadian family has access to high quality, woman-centred maternity care as close to home as possible, with the care provider of the woman's choice.

As an essential part of that strategy, midwifery services need to be widely available, funded and accessible to all Canadians.

Kerstin Martin, President, Canadian Association of Midwives

Cyprus

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The Cyprus Nurses and Midwives Association (CYNMA) carried out many activities for the Celebration of the International Day of Midwives 2008.

The IDM 2008 theme 'Healthy Families: the Key to the Future' was publicised through the mass media with a focus on the role of the midwife in keeping the family healthy: by keeping birth normal; by reducing unnecessary interventions that hamper the health of women and neonates; and by supporting the families' birthing rights.

Midwives were invited to take part in interviews, arranged by the CYNMA Board, in TV and radio programmes with high publicity, and discussed the theme of the day. All interviews revealed people's great interest and desire to know more about the science and the profession of midwifery and the scope and field of midwives' action.

On the day of the IDM, midwives gathered together, presented the theme of the IDM 2008 and socialised among friends and other health care professionals.

Midwives at the Limassol Maternity Unit publicised the first edition of a midwives' newspaper, the 'Midwifery News'.

The CYNMA this year celebrated the 20th anniversary of its foundation and this celebration was considered as part of the IDM 2008; all former members of the Board of CYNMA were honoured for their outstanding work and for their commitment to strengthen the association and to fulfil the vision and strategic goals of both professions.

Maria Papadopoulou, Midwife-CYNMA Board Member This year, the International Day of the Midwife offered the opportunity to showcase the work of the midwife in the community. The celebrations started by organising a float through the principal streets of Techiman in the Brong Ahafo Region, where the launch took place.

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It was followed by a durbar (ceremonial gathering) where speeches were delivered. The Regional Chairperson, Mrs Christina Amo-Appiah, gave a welcome address and Honourable Ignatius Baffour Awuah, the Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, announced that maternal mortality in the Region has fallen from 113/100,000 live births in 2006 to 88/100,000 in 2007. He commended midwives for working hard to giving practical meaning to the regional goal of zero tolerance for Maternal Mortality by the year 2015.

Mrs Ernestina Djokotoe, President of the Ghana Registered Midwives Association, observed that midwifery care was unique as it influences the health of future generations. She also stated that midwives have not received the recognition that they deserve even though the profession is as old as the human race and called for more serious attention to the advancement of midwifery as an autonomous profession in Ghana. Mrs Djokotoe urged her colleagues to introduce integrated maternal health in their practice by screening pregnant women for HIV to prevent mother-to-child transmission.

The Regional Director of Health Services of Brong-Ahafo Region, in his speech, urged all Health Providers in the Government, Mission and Private Sectors to regard themselves as collaborators and partners with the households, not as competitors, and to complement each other to make health care more accessible in the country.

The Country Representative of UNFPA paid tribute to midwives around the world, especially in Ghana for their hard work and dedication to duty. He called for urgent action to address the shortage of midwives in the country as well as providing incentives and equipment to carry out their duties where needed. Some midwives from the Brong Ahafo Region were honoured for their long service and dedication to duty.

Midwives also celebrated the occasion in their various regions for a period of one week during which activities were carried out in the communities. These included: organisation of durbars for interactions with communities; visits to schools; random blood pressure checks and breast examination; counselling and provision of family planning services; material donations to hospitals and orphanages.

Ernestina Djokotoe (Mrs), National President, GRMA

Haiti

Le lundi 5 mai 2008, une messe d'action de grace a ete celebree a la chapelle de l'immaculee conception a l'hopital de l'universite d'etat d'Haiti. Le Mgr Andre Dumas a delivre un message simple et clair << le respect de la vie >>. Apres la messe, une reception a ete donnee au local de l'Ecole nationale d'infirmieres sages-femmes, plusieurs personnalites ont ete presente, notamment Mine Marie Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue, la Ministre a la condition feminine, et Mme Tania Patriota, representante de l'UNFPA en Haiti.

Le Dr Pierre Alix Laroche a pris la parole pour cxprimer sa fierte face a l'AISFH et surtout face a la promotion qui a pris l'initiative de donner naissance ace bebe maintenant vieux de 3 annees.

Mme Partriota est intervenue a reflechir sur le devenir des femmes en ages de procreer en Haiti et surtout le sors de celles qui portent des bebes et accouchent quotidiennement. Selon elle, avec un taux de mortalite de 630/100000 naissances vivantes, Haiti a besoin de plus d'investissement au niveau de la formation de sagesfemmes, puisque cette derniere joue un role important dans la famille, aupres de la femme et au sein de la communaute. Elle promet le soutien de l'UNFPA a l'ecole de sage-femme et reaffirme son engagement aupres du gouvernement Haitien dans ses efforts pour ameliorer les services en augmentant le nombre de sage-femme dans les maternites.

En resume, nous, en tant que sages-femmes, avons beaucoup a faire, afin que la reduction de la mortalite maternelle et infantile ne soit plus un reve, mais la realite.

On 5 May 2008 a thanksgiving mass was celebrated at the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at the University Hospital of Haiti. Mgr Andre Dumas gave a clear and simple message 'respect for life'. After the mass, there was a reception at the National School of Nurse Midwives; several dignitaries were present, notably Mme Marie Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue, Minister for Women's Affairs and Mme Tania Patriota, representative of UNFPA in Haiti.

Dr Pierre Alix Laroche expressed his pride in the AISFH and especially in the group who had taken the initiative of 'giving birth' to this baby who was now three years old.

Mme Partriota reflected on the future for women of childbearing age in Haiti and on the outcomes for those who were expecting babies at this moment. She referred to the mortality rate of 630/100,000 and the need for greater investment in the training of midwives, so that they can play their important part in the family, alongside the woman, and in the heart of the community. She promised the support of UNFPA for the midwifery school and reaffirmed her involvement with the Haitian government's efforts to improve services and increase the number of midwives in maternity.

In summary, we know that we as midwives have much to do before the reduction of maternal and infant mortality becomes not just a dream, but reality.

SAM Josee Angela, Secretaire de l'AISFH
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Title Annotation:International Confederation of Midwives
Publication:International Midwifery
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Sep 1, 2008
Words:2247
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