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Back 27 March 2014

ICM Midwifery Development Workshop in China

The purpose of the workshop was to contribute to the development of midwifery in China; to learn about the situation of midwifery in China with specific attention to the three pillars – Education, Regulation, and Association; and to discuss the impact of how well resourced and regulated midwives can contribute towards reduction in maternal and neonatal deaths. New gap analysis tools were developed in 2012 to identify gaps and challenges in midwifery, address them, and strengthen member associations. The set of documents in ICM’s three official languages (English, French, and Spanish) includes: member association capacity assessment tool, pre-service education assessment tool, and regulation assessment tool. The main objectives of the workshop were as follows: to share the results of the survey conducted in August 2013; to discuss how those results can contribute to the recognition of midwifery profession as ‘an autonomous and distinct’ profession; and to strengthen the three pillars of the midwifery to enable provision of quality and safe care to the mothers and newborns in China. The workshop, attended by over 100 people, provided an in-depth understanding about the importance of midwifery care for policy-makers and stakeholders in the country. 

Main activities of the workshop are outlined below:

  1. ICM global standards, competencies and tools as a basis for discussing the possibility of standardization of midwifery in the country were shared;
  2. Strengths and areas for improvement of the three pillars of midwifery profession i.e. Education, Regulation and Association, were identified; 
  3. A strategic plan was developed;
  4. A discussion with midwifery teams/different associations to establish a ‘National Midwives Association’ for the strengthening of midwifery profession in the country was facilitated; 
  5. The outcomes of the workshop were shared with government and development partners to plan service development at policy development.

Press interview

Dr Ngai Fen Cheung, Martha Bokosi (ICM Project Coordinator), Pashtoon Zyaee (ICM Technical Midwife Adviser), Sue Bree (ICM Regional Board Member, Asia Pacific), and Nester Moyo (ICM Senior Midwifery Advisor) during a press interview

The ICM Gap Analysis workshop was the first of its kind in China. Midwifery, as an indispensable care workforce for maternal and newborn health, has gained more support and understanding only over the past two decades, even though the profession has existed for centuries. Through UNFPA and 29 other international organizations and institutions, UN recently appealed for global actions to scale up midwifery care. For these reasons, the workshop for midwifery development in China was both internationally and domestically significant, as midwifery started to wane and is almost disappearing since 2000. Currently, there is no officially recognized definition of a midwife in China, nor midwife in term of employment. There are also no midwifery schools in most of the provinces, nor in the medical universities. The absence of midwifery higher education system and a standard-based curriculum in China makes it very difficult for midwives there to think of and to treat pregnancy and birth normal. The development of midwifery care also provides an answer to the country’s health care reforms under its rapid economic, social, and technological development.

Dr Gao, the Director of the host hospital, opened the workshop. ICM Regional Board Member (Asia Pacific), Sue Bree, made an official opening statement and addressed the participants. ‘Many countries have experienced the loss of midwifery workforce, but are now realising the crucial roles midwives can have in a national maternity service, as there is now overwhelming evidence that: midwives make a difference, save lives, and are cost-effective. But this can only be achieved if: midwives are well educated, regulated in order that they are accountable and meet their obligations to the public, and have adequate support from a strong and functioning professional Association’, said Sue Bree. Another key presentation was from Dr Ngai Fen Cheung, titled ‘Does China need midwives’. She presented the history of midwifery in China including the factors leading to its near disappearance. China needs midwives for its healthy women and newborns. ‘To establish the midwifery profession, to build the midwifery workforce means that women and families will have the recognized support from the society during childbirth. This is a must in a civilized society’, said Dr Ngai Fen Cheung.

Dr Gao, Pashtoon

Pashtoon Zyaee (ICM Technical Midwife Adviser) next to Dr Gao

On the tile photo (home page): Dr Gao Haisheng (Head of Shijiazhuang W.C.H. Hospital) and Dr Mo Zhongfu (Deputy Head SWCH Hospital)

China Collage

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