Investing in Midwives

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Vice-President: Debrah Lewis

I was pleased as a member of the Core Steering Group of the Investing in Midwives Programme to meet in New York last week to discuss and finalise the Work Plan for 2013.

We all agreed that the programme is an excellent one. In the countries involved key results have been achieved in the areas of Education, Regulation and Association, the "3 Pillars" as identified by ICM. You can check out the programme in the site. We are pleased that the programme will be continued for 2013 and the number of countries increased.

We can never rest in advocating our conviction that a woman’s right to a midwife’s care, and to the birthing environment of her choice, and it is a basic human right. Not only should no woman have to risk her life or that of her unborn baby by going through childbirth without expert care, but also she should be able to make her own informed decisions about where and how she gives birth. And it must always be within the law for a midwife to accompany her.

There is much work to be down in lower resource countries such as those we are working in as part of our our Investing in Midwives Programme. But even in countries with long-standing midwifery services there are signs that hard-won rights for childbearing women to choose the place and manner of their birth are being eroded, mothers are subject to scare-mongering tactics, and resources for midwifery are subsumed into hospital and medical budgets.

We must be vigilant in protecting the rights of childbearing women, in advancing the cause of autonomous midwifery, and in improving the health and wellbeing of women and their newborn. As global decision-makers begin to focus on the impending deadline for achievement of the Millennium Development Goals we need to be a strong voice for a strong midwifery profession as the only way to achieve MDGs 4&5.

And we cannot rest there either, but must now begin considering what will be the agendas we will prioritise post 2015 to move the Millennium Development Goals’ agenda forward.

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