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The International Day of the Midwife 2007: with the triennial theme of 'Keeping birth normal' and the year's focus of 'Reaching out to women', midwives celebrated in their own way across the world.

This year's round-up includes extracts from items published in the local or national press, as well as reports from member associations. At ICM Head Office we were delighted to see more articles of both sorts than ever before. The International Day is more widely recognised every year and is becoming a major event in the process of raising the midwifery profile in the global arena.

Afghanistan

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Over 150 members of the three-year-old Afghan Midwives Association (AMA) came together to mark the day. Dr Saed M Amin Fatemi, Minister of Public Health in the Afghan government, opened the celebrations at the Insaf Hotel in the capital city Kabul and, during his speech, pledged the support of the Ministry to the AMA to assist in meeting its goals.

At the annual congress, held immediately before the IDM, midwives were presented with certificates and gifts for their individual achievements, and there were also prizes for designing a midwifery poster. One winning poster, shown below, designed and crafted by midwives from Nangarhar province, symbolises the midwives as doves who bring health and peace to the families of Afghanistan, while the spreading branches of the trees show the different places and ways in which midwives carry out their work.

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Australia

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The Advertiser in Bendigo, Victoria, reported on May 5 that: 'Midwives at Bendigo Health and from around the world are taking part in International Midwives Day celebrations today. The day honours and promotes midwifery and the many and varied aspects of the role. Among the celebrations at Bendigo Health, the staff farewelled midwife Annette Ramage, who retired after 32 years of service. "I've had so many highlights in my career," she said. "... meeting the [women], seeing through their pregnancies and then seeing them return again for their second and third babies. The other is I have worked with a wonderful bunch of colleagues." To celebrate International Midwives Day Ms Ramage presented a quilt to Julie Dillon and baby Riley (photo above).

Austria

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Austrian midwives braved wet spring weather to join many other European midwives in releasing balloons to publicise the idea of keeping birth normal.

The Austrian balloons were printed with the slogan 'Kinder kommen durch Frauenkraft'--'Children are born through woman-power!'

Burundi

Une annee vient de s 'ecouler depuis que les femmes burundaises accouchent gratuitement dans les structures sanitaire publiques. Cet anniversaire et la journee internationale de la sage femme ont ete celebres au Burundi le 05 mai 2007 dans toutes les provinces du pays dans le but de palper les realites du terrain dans le milieu recule. Lors des manifestations, les sages-femmes ont ete informes sur l'etat d'avancement du dossier d'agrement de l'association Burundaise de sages-femmes << ABUSAFE >> en sigle.

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Dans la province de Rutana, les sages-femmes et autres professionnels de la sante se sont retrouves a la maternite de Gihofi pour evaluer ensemble les resultats de la maternite gratuite dans cette province et proceder au lancement du Groupe d'Assistance pour la Promotion de la Maternite sans Risques (voir le photo), une association qui regroupe les sages-femmes, infirmieres, auxiliaires de sante, accoucheuse traditionnelles et autres animateurs de sante. L 'objectif de cette association est de sensibiliser les femmes a l'age de procreer sur l'importance de la consultation prenatale, le depistage volontaire du VIH/Sida pendant la grossesse et les autres avantages d'accoucher sous assistance qualifiee. Elle va aussi encadrer toutes femmes victimes des grossesses issues de la violence sexuelle sur toutes ces formes. Une fois agreer, l'association Burundaise des sagesfemmes compte mettre sur pieds a travers ce groupe, une equipe mobile qui sera prete a intervenir a tout moment devant une urgente obstetricale qui pourra survenir dans les centres de sante les plus recules.

Les manifestations ont ete cloturees par la remise des moustiquaires aux femmes qui ont accouches le 1-5 mai 2007 a l'hopital de Gihofi.

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A year has passed since the day it was determined that women in Burundi would be able to deliver their babies in health institutions, free of charge. Burundi celebrated the anniversary of this momentous decision together with the International Day of the Midwife on May 5, 2007, throughout the various provinces of Burundi. The aim of these celebrations was to get a feel for the impact of this new service, particularly in the more remote areas. During the event, midwives were informed of the progress of the official incorporation of the Burundi Association of Midwives, << ABUSAFE >>.

In the province of Rutana in the south-east of Burundi, midwives and other health professionals met at a maternity hospital in Gihofi to evaluate collectively the results of the free maternity services in this province and to launch the Assistant Group for the promotion of Safe Motherhood. The group consists of health professionals from a variety of backgrounds who deal with maternal health. The group's aim is to raise awareness amongst childbearing women of the importance of prenatal consultations, voluntary HIV/AIDS screening during pregnancy and other advantages of skilled care. The group will also take into its scope care of pregnant women who have been victims of violence. Once it is approved, the Burundi Association of Midwives hopes to put together, via this group, a mobile team which could intervene to assist in obstetrical emergencies which could arise in the most remote of the maternity centres.

These events were concluded with the distribution of mosquito nets to women who had given birth between the 1st and 5th of May, 2007 at the maternity hospital in Gihofi.

Canada

In Canada, the Cambridge Ontario Times, May 8, reported:

In honour of "International Midwives Day", the Cambridge Midwives hosted an open house and yard sale fundraiser ... to raise money for their client lending library. Donations from friends, family and supporters raised a total of $478.'

Meanwhile, Gisela Becker, Vice-President of the Canadian Association of Midwives, was invited to write about the day for the newsletter of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. She took the opportunity to remind readers about the current and past status of midwifery in Canada in the following extract:

'[It is] only in recent times that midwifery legislation has been introduced and the profession has become part of the established healthcare system.... The status of midwifery in many provinces and territories is dynamic and the process of legislating midwifery is moving quickly across Canada: the jurisdictions where midwifery is recognized are Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories.

'However ... in many places where midwives practice, they are still viewed as an 'add-on' service ... midwifery care in Canada remains far from a mainstream service. In 2002 in Canada, 2% of total births were attended by midwives. On the other hand, the number of births attended by midwives in Ontario has risen seven-fold in five years ... the numbers of midwives are rapidly increasing; the number of Midwifery Education Programs is rising and the Canadian Midwifery Regulators have successfully developed a national strategy for assessing internationally-educated midwives who wish to work in Canada.

'The Canadian Association of Midwives has become a partner organization in the Multidisciplinary Collaborative Primary Maternity Care Project ([MCP.sup.2]) that was designed to address the human resource shortage crisis that exists in the provision of birthing services to pregnant women. The overarching goal of [MCP.sup.2] was to reduce key barriers and facilitate the implementation of national multidisciplinary collaborative primary maternity care strategies as a means of increasing the availability and quality of maternity services for all Canadian women. With enhanced midwifery capacity, midwives will contribute significantly to solving the maternity care provider shortage.'

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Cyprus

Taking a proactive approach to media coverage, the Cyprus Nurses and Midwives Association (CYNMA) sent out a press release about the IDM at the beginning of May. Consequently a number of midwives were invited to speak on radio programmes, and they took the opportunity to highlight the importance of the midwife's role in keeping birth normal, as well as their contribution to women's, babies' and families' health.

On May 4, midwives organised stands in the reception areas of hospitals in each city to inform the public, especially pregnant women, about the role of the midwife. A leaflet entitled Midwives reach out to women wherever they live had been prepared in coordination with the Southern Europe Region and issued by each Association in its language. During the day 700-1000 leaflets were handed out to the public. On May 5, CYNMA arranged a social meeting of midwives from all over Cyprus in Limassol. White balloons, with the slogan 'The midwife keeps birth normal' written in blue, were released to the sky all at the same time. The celebration continued with a speech for the IDM 2007, refreshments and socialising.

Germany

The Association of German Midwives joined with many others in Europe to release balloons in an awareness-raising campaign. The message on these was 'Hebammen fordern Gesundheit ... von Anfang an', the same title as the association's major national congress held in the same week--'Midwives promote health--from the beginning!'

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Ghana

The President of the Ghana Registered Midwives Association (GRMA), Mrs Ernestina Djokotoe, took the opportunity of the International Day of the Midwife to call on midwives not to stay in the confmes of their workplaces, but also to visit women in their homes to render services to them. She spoke during the launch of the Day at the Tema Municipal Assembly Premises, which was attended by the Chief Nursing Officer representing the Minister of Health, and marked by a procession with brass band music. Representatives from WHO, UNFPA and UNICEF were also present.

A bulletin in the Daily Graphic, (reported on www.myjoyonline.com), described Mrs Djokotoe saying that such action would help improve maternal health care, ensure the survival of new-born babies and also reduce the estimated seven million maternal deaths that occur each year in Ghana.

She also cited shortage of midwives in the rural areas as one of the problems they were facing and therefore appealed to the government to help address the problem.

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The Senior Medical Officer in-charge of the Tema Polyclinic, Dr Sally Quartey, reiterated the need for midwives to look beyond the narrow confines of pregnancy and delivery and to broaden their care to include areas such as nutrition, general health, education as well as early marriages and their effects.

She urged the midwives to be committed to their work by providing quality health care services to women in need and by observing the ethics of their profession in the performance of their duties.

In Asesewa, in the eastern region of Ghana, midwives celebrated on May 18 with a march including schoolchildren and health talks on birth preparedness to both men and women.

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Cette annee, en Haiti plus d'une centaine de personnes ont pris part a la celebration de la journee mondiale des sages femmes a Port-au-Prince et pros d'une centaine aux Cayes dans le departement du Sud pour exprimer leur solidarite a la cause des femmes et des sages femmes en particulier.

La Presidente de l'Association des Infirmieres Sages Femmes d'Haiti (AISFH), Mme Marie Nadege Aladin, a souligne dans son allocution le role crucial de la Sage-femme dans la lutte contre la mortalite maternelle. Elle a aussi souligne que la presence des sages-femmes dans les institutions de sante maternelle amene une ere nouvelle dans la prise en charge des femmes enceintes et accouchees en particulier et dans la sante de la reproduction en general.

Cependant, disait-elle selon les resultats de l'enquete sur la morbidite, mortalite et l'utilisation des services la mortalite maternelle en Haiti continue a battre son plein et atteint 630/100,000.

C'est pourquoi un Appel a l'action est lance a l'attention de toutes les parties prenantes afin que soient intensifies de toute urgence les efforts portant a developper la pratique de sage-femme dans la communaute.

Elle a exprime la confiance de l'AISFH dans les sages femmes du pays tant a leur competence que dans leur volonte de contribuer activement dans la lutte contre la mortalite maternelle et neonatale.

This year in Haiti over 100 people took part in the IDM celebration in Port-au-Prince--and nearly 100 in Cayes--to express their solidarity with the cause of women and midwives.

The President of AISFH, Mme Marie Nadege Aladin, stressed the crucial role of the midwife in the fight against maternal mortality. She said that the presence of midwives in institutions of maternal health brings a new era both in the care of pregnant and birthing women, and in reproductive health generally.

Nevertheless, according to the results of a recent inquiry into maternal mortality and morbidity--and the uptake of services--levels of mortality are still reaching 630/100,000 live births.

This is why a 'Call to action' has been sent out to all stakeholders to intensify efforts to develop the practice of midwifery in the community. On behalf of the AISFH, Mme Aladin expressed confidence that all the country's midwives had both the competence and willingness to contribute actively to the struggle against maternal and neonatal mortality.

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Liberia

The Analyst, a Monrovia newspaper, published an account on 4 June 2007 of the Liberia Midwifery Association's day-long celebration in observance of 'Midwifery Day'.

'Speaking at the weekend program, held at the auditorium of the JFK Memorial Hospital, UNFPA National Program Officer, Jacob Lawuoba Sumo said the need for the training of midwives in the country is enormous. He expressed the need for urgent action and said that much commitment on the part of training institutions and the government is required to realize the goal.

'Mr Sumo said that the government and the people must not pay lip service about midwifery and refuse to do something about it, saying we should say it and take action, so that we can prepare our midwives. He indicated that from the UNFPA point of view, the institution will support government at any level to make sure that pregnant women going to the clinics will have needed materials ... and that facilities are purposefully used. He noted that all midwives must work together to bring about quality human resources when it come to serving our mothers.

'Mr Sumo added that professional nurses and midwives must consider themselves as important persons. He also cautioned traditional birth attendants to see their role as very important, because every one of them is important in their communities or place of residence.

'Sumo then called on individuals to respect midwives and treat them with dignity [and] on those receiving services from the midwives to treat and regard them with respect, because without them no health service can go on successfully.

'Meanwhile several midwifery students and midwives who spoke at the Midwifery Day events called on the National Government of Liberia and the JFK authorities to extend the midwifery training program to three years. According to them, this extension will enable them to acquire [the skills] to be capable practitioners.

'The day-long event was climaxed with drama and the unveiling of a midwifery calendar in the conspicuous absence of the JFK Hospital administration, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the chief nursing officer.'

Malta

Malta independent online, on May 5, reported:

'Although there is good quality care in Malta, maternity services also need to expand within the community, according to the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses (MUMN). Locally, it said, women were not able to access midwifery care that provided continuity, although there was strong evidence that those receiving such care are more satisfied with the results.

"'Reaching out" is an important part of a midwife's job, not just to provide care for women who lived a long way from a health facility, but also to overcome other barriers to access .... It was "woman-centred" care that resulted in a healthy outcome for mother and baby and that meant positive action from midwives to ensure that they offered what women wanted.

'The MUMN said it was committed to working on the International Confederation of Midwives ideology, with its aim and goal being the provision of universal access to midwifery care for childbearing women, and providing this as close as possible to the women's homes.'

Mozambique.

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Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world and maternal and infant mortality is very high. It has an estimated 2,400 midwives to care for a population of 19 million inhabitants.

The Association for Midwives in Mozambique (APARMO) has around 100 members in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. With assistance from UNFPA, APARMO has designed a work plan for midwifery, sexual and reproductive health and hopes to receive funds from UNFPA and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) to establish its important work for women and children. APARMO also aims to carry out advocacy for midwifery in Mozambique and establish international contacts with other midwifery associations in the world.

The day was marked with a lecture given by midwife Deolinda Amaral and a speech from Atalia Nhacutone, the APARMO president, who said with regret that Mozambique is lacking so many midwives it is difficult to show how important they are, but she made it very clear it is not possible to substitute another health worker for a midwife: trained and qualified midwives are what Mozambique needs.

After the formal events, the midwives got together and celebrated their day with snacks and soft drinks. They write: 'We all felt it was an important day and the work to build up the future workforce with midwives has started!'.

Pakistan

The PakTribune in Lahore printed the cheering news that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Government of Punjab have enrolled 450 students in a new community midwifery training programme that will bring skilled birth attendants to rural areas of the Punjab.

The announcement was made on the International Day of the Midwife at the Institute of Public Health.

The Pakistan Initiative for Mothers and Newborns (PAIMAN) Project is working with the Punjab Department of Health to enrol students and prepare them to deliver babies safely in their own communities. The students must conduct at least 25 supervised deliveries before they graduate from their course. Chaudhary Mohammad Iqbal, Minister for Health in the Punjab, stressed the Government's commitment to reduce maternal, newborn and infant mortality. "Through health sector reforms, the Government of Punjab is ensuring basic emergency obstetric and newborn care facilities available at the doorsteps of the people".

Since nearly 80 percent of Pakistani women deliver their babies at home, this new cadre of health workers will be a vital resource to safeguard mother and newborn health.

"Working in ten districts throughout Pakistan, PAIMAN is supporting the training of 1,500 new community midwives and preparing staff of 31 facilities to provide emergency care in refurbished, better equipped labor wards", he added.

The Philippines

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The Integrated Midwives Association of the Philippines (IMAP), Inc. joined the world in the celebration of the IDM by participating in a 'Fun Run' held at the Quezon City Circle. Midwives jogged or ran throughout the circle as they proclaimed and shouted out their confidence as midwives, the 'first hand health care provider of the country and unsung heroes of the community'. A thanksgiving Eucharistic Celebration was held after the run at the Peace Bell Tower. After the mass, the IMAP Board of Directors led a session of stretching and exercising as they moved and danced to energetic and rhythmic music. All the participants were eager to move their bodies--a sign of the energy and spirit of selfless service and dedication of the midwives!

Puerto Rico

La celebracion del Dia Internacional de la Partera en Puerto Rico, el dia 5 de Mayo de 2007, se realizo en union de todos los tipos de parteras en nuestro archipielago, las parteras tradicionales, las parteras certificadas y las enfermeras parteras. Se dedico la actividad a nuestra muy querida partera Rita Aparicio. Se presento un muy buen concepto de video y fotografia con el hombre Todas somos parteras, creado por Vanesa Caldari, partera. Compartimos en hermandad, confianza y celebrando que al fin entre todas como parteras estan creando una ley de nuestra profesion en toda su autenticidad y autonomia, con una sola definicion de la partera y bajo ella cada rama identificada con cuidadosa equidad. Aunque, las madres y dentro del grupo, se nos llama parteras y todas nos referimos unas a otras como parteras.

The celebration this year of the Dia Internacional de la Partera in Puerto Rico was held in union with all types of midwives existing in the archipelago: the traditional midwife, the certified midwife and the nurse midwife. A very good presentation of video and photography, created by midwife Vanessa Caldari and called 'We Are All Midwives', was shown. Midwife Debbie Diaz wrote 'We shared in sisterhood and trust, celebrating that all together we are creating our profession in authenticity and autonomy, with one definition of the midwife and under it each branch identified with careful equity.

Suriname

The Suriname Organisation of Midwives, a very new member of ICM, simply sent a most positive message to the head office:

Have an awesome day-let the Women throughout the world know that We are there for them!

Uganda

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Members of the Uganda Private Midwives Association (UPMA) celebrated in Masaka town in the South Eastern part of Uganda. A scientific conference was held with presentations from midwives and donor partners on care of the newborn, prevention of postpartum haemorrhage, working towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, the 'road to maternal health', family planning and the benefits of community outreach. Midwives and their guests formed a parade around Masaka Town led by a band, with guest of honour Mrs Maria Mutagamba, Minister of Water and Environment.

Mrs Mutagamba praised the integrated reproductive health services that midwives provide to the community and advised UPMA to pursue vigorous advocacy for universal support by the Government, promising that women Parliamentarians will help. She also recommended awareness-raising in the community through drama and youth competitions, and supported midwives carrying out research.

Yemen

The national Yemeni Midwives Association celebrated the IDM for the first time. Events on the day included the showing of a film report on the activities of the association, and a play to highlight problems that women face through pregnancy and delivery, and the midwife's important role in helping these women.

On the day, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) urged the government to recruit more midwives, and improve professional conditions to provide better services for mothers. Since UNFPA started work in Yemen in the early 1970s, it has participated in training 1,282 community midwives in 50 districts, but estimates that 10,000 more midwives are needed.

UK

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In the UK, the ICM has five different midwifery associations in membership. The Midwifery Society of the Royal College of Nursing designed and disseminated a poster with the simple message 'Bringing life, light and joy to women all around the globe'.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) focused on the issue of care for women who suffer mental health problems such as depression around childbirth and also held fund-raising events to support midwives from developing countries to attend the ICM 28th Triennial Congress in Glasgow.

The Independent Midwives Association called for greater recognition of the independent midwife's role and a government-backed solution to the problem of appropriate insurance cover for this type of work.

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Publication:International Midwifery
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Sep 1, 2007
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