SoWMy Launched in the Netherlands
During the launch of the State of the World's Midwifery Report at the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, ICM President, Frances Day-Stirk, spoke about the key findings of the report. The report highlights the solution and barriers in four key areas: availability, accessability, acceptability and quality of midwifery services. The report contains data from 73 countries and shows that there are still not enough adequately educated midwives to support the health of women and newborns. Frances Day-Stirk reiterated that investment in the education of midwives is the 'best buy' as the report shows that such an investment yields a 16-fold return in terms of lives saved.
The panel was chaired by Elly Leemhuis (Senior Advisor for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights) of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA). Panelists included: Dr. Luc de Bernis of UNFPA (Senior Maternal Health Adviser at UNFPA), Dr. Laura Laski of UNFPA (Chief, Sexual and Reproductive Branch, Technical Division UNFPA), Frances Day-Stirk (ICM President), and Renate Douwes of Simavi.
Luc de Bernis guided the audience through interpretation of the country profiles. He explained that availability needs to be calculated by hours that midwives spent on providing midwifery services and not by the number of midwives available. In addition, he pointed out that midwives' salaries are among the lowest which negatively affects the attractiveness of the profession. "Accessibility not only means geographical reach but also takes into account if the women can pay for the midwifery services", said de Bernis. Acceptability is an important factor in increasing the uptake of maternal and newborn health services in regards to services provided but also in regards on how midwives are accepted in the society. Quality of care is vital however, many countries lack the resources and capacity to educate midwives.
Renate Douwes of Simavi provided recommendations on how SOWMy can be used by Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs). She also suggested to use the advocacy toolkit developed by Family Care International and ICM. The FCI/ICM toolkit contains guidance on how to start discussions with policymakers. recommended to map the local stakeholders, learn about budget restrictions as well as funds that are not ear-marked. Douwes called midwives agents of change as they have the chance to reach the community and work on the continuum of care. The session concluded with questions from the audience.
The meeting was hosted by Share-net Netherlands.