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The first official celebration of the International Day of the Midwife in the people's Republic of China.

The International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) has designated 5 May as the 'International Day of the Midwife (IDM)' since1992. Midwives in the world have celebrated it for 16 years. However, it is even more a special day this year for Chinese midwives because they have, for the first time, obtained officials' approval and support to organise their own celebration.

The theme for the event was 'The world needs midwives now more than ever'. The event symbolised the progression of Chinese Midwifery and highlighted the recognition of its importance from Chinese Authority.

At present, midwifery in China is not an independent profession, nor can Chinese midwives work to their full potential because of the lack of adequate recognition and legislation. Since 1996, midwifery in mainland China has been marginalised by medicine and nursing; few people understand the meaning and role of a midwife, let alone the International Day of the Midwife. In this context, it is a milestone for Chinese midwives to acquire approval and recognition from the local government for this celebration.

A memorable moment in Chinese midwifery history

This celebration took place in Shenzhen, China. It was organised by the midwives and hosted by the Shenzhen Nursing Association of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Around 200 Shenzhen midwives and about 20 midwifery specialists came together from all over the country to mark this memorable moment in Chinese midwifery history and to discuss the future development of their profession.

Each head of the Health Department of Guangdong province and that of Shenzhen, made a speech in the meeting. They supported the midwives to celebrate their own festival and called for action and commitment to reduce maternal and infant mortality. The leaders also acknowledged the solidarity and contribution of midwives.

In this series of activities, a spokeswoman of Feng Yujuan, the representative of ICM Asia Pacific Regional, introduced the function and organisation of the ICM and described midwifery development in Hong Kong, which broadened the midwives' perspective and helped them know more about international midwifery.

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Cheung Ngai Fen, professor of Hangzhou Normal University gave a wonderful lecture about a recent research project 'the first midwife-led normal birth unit in China'. The idea of this project is to promote normal birth, improve maternity care and enhance midwives' professional and social status. The efforts made were to increase midwives' confidence to work for their profession and maternity care with great zeal.

Seventeen midwives who have been working in the front line of maternity care for more than 20 years were honoured during the ceremony. Midwives also displayed their versatile talent by presenting various excellent performances: a well-organised research proposal, brilliant humorous pieces and some touching singing. During the celebration, many midwives broke down in tears for this historical moment, recalling both happiness and sadness in their profession.

A platform for Chinese midwives to work together

This event provided more people with comprehensive understanding about midwives' characteristic work and their contribution; and motivated midwives' morale and confidence. It also set up a platform for Chinese midwives to work together and to exchange ideas. Throughout the ceremony, many senior Chinese midwives pledged to give their commitments to strengthen and to advance Chinese midwifery. They were keen to use their privilege and position to support and to advance the profession.

As long as human beings exist, the need for midwives will never end. Corresponding to the IDM theme 'The world needs midwives, now more than ever', Chinese midwives are taking positive action for the quality of maternity care and national health. They are preparing to work as hard as it takes to ensure Chinese women have access to their care and to accomplish their important historical mission in the society.

Zhang Jing, Nursing School of Hangzhou Normal University, China; e-mail: zj 617@163.com

Chinese midwife Zhang Jing, of the Nursing School of Hangzhou Normal University, announces this important and ground-breaking event in China
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Author:Jing, Zhang
Publication:International Midwifery
Geographic Code:9TAIW
Date:Jun 1, 2009
Words:650
Previous Article:International day of the midwife, 5 May 2009: the world needs midwives, now more than ever.
Next Article:'Normalising childbirth through authentic collaboration': the international evidence.
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