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World Congress of Perinatal Medicine: interdisciplinary and ethical practice: Tokiko Oishi, of the International Committee of the Japan Academy of Midwifery, reports from Osaka, Japan, where ICM Director Joyce Thompson gave a keynote address.

The World Association of Perinatal Medicine held its 6th World Congress of Perinatal Medicine on September 13-16 in Osaka, Japan. The Congress consisted of three sections, relating to obstetrics, neonatology and midwifery. The midwifery section was supported by the Japan Academy of Midwifery. The whole congress involved 1,300 participants from 59 countries and the midwifery section was very successful with about 300 participants.

Women-centred midwifery care

The two-day midwifery section had the main theme of 'Women-centred Midwifery Care', and it opened with the keynote address given by Dr Joyce Thompson, Director of the ICM Board of Management and Lacey Professor of Community Health Nursing at Western Michigan University, followed by sessions about 'Evidence-based midwifery and practice'.

Epidemiologists from Japan and the Netherlands suggested that midwives could play crucial roles in promoting the normalcy of birth. Practitioners in the community from various countries demonstrated their evidence-based practices.

Midwifery for women

The focus of the second day was on 'midwifery for women'. Barbara Katz Rothman, Professor of Sociology at the City University of New York, and author of the Encyclopedia of Childbearing, led the sessions with her talk titled 'Midwifery as feminist praxis'. The topics of violence against women and midwifery education were then discussed in terms of midwifery for women.

Special midwifery lectures were given in the main hall along with the lectures in obstetrics and neonatology. Joyce Thompson talked about 'Interdisciplinary professional practice: midwives, nurses and physicians' as she showed evidence of midwives' great contribution and the importance of collaboration among the three professions to the benefit of maternal and child health.

Dr Horiuchi, president of the Japan Academy of Midwifery gave a paper entitled 'Towards the creation of a women-centred care system'.

Recently, midwifery education and the relationship between midwives and nurses have become important issues in Japan. It was very timely and informative that the situations in various countries with regard to those issues were exchanged and discussed in this midwifery conference.

Ethical issues in perinatal care

Joyce Thompson, co-author of the ICM's International Code of Ethics for Midwives, spoke about the need to address some of the complex ethical issues facing individuals, families and professional health workers during the childbearing years: these require informed and reasoned choices.

She emphasised that 'to be professional is to be ethical', reminded her audience that 'women's rights are human rights, and human rights are women's rights' and encouraged midwives to:

* Attain common understanding of values, rights, morals and ethics in health care

* Identify key ethical issues that arise during the childbearing cycle

* Discuss the role of key individuals in making choices during childbearing

* Consider applying a decision model to specific situations requiring ethical choices

'Values' were defined as 'directional signals that determine what's good, bad, normal, and not normal in your life'. The sources of values may be personal--deriving from family, religion, peers, geographical location, media, socioeconomic environment and culture; or professional--based upon codes of moral conduct, peers' opinions, the culture of the workplace and personal enlightenment. There are also universal ethical precepts including respect for self and others, 'do good and not harm', justice, fairness and integrity.

There is a social contract between health professionals, women and childbearing families, including shared respect and decision-making. Four of the areas where ethical concerns are particularly important are: violation of women's rights; choice of when and how one conceives; choice of professional provider & place of birth; choices related to extent of care for seriously ill neonates.

International Code of Ethics

Joyce Thompson referred to a number of sections of the Code of Ethics, including Code II and Code IV:

* Respect cultural diversity ... avoid harm

* Ensure sale birth practices

* Seek personal, intellectual and professional growth

* Advance knowledge that protects the rights of women

* Develop & share midwifery knowledge--peer review, research

* Participate in formal education of students & midwives

and closed with a plea to 'Listen to a woman's concerns and needs--treat her with respect and dignity at all times ... remember the health of women and newborns are key indicators of the health of any nation, and ethical midwifery care is essential to the health of women and newborns!'
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Author:Oishi, Tokiko
Publication:International Midwifery
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Nov 1, 2003
Words:683
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