Durban – A record breaking 3 000 midwives from 111 countries made their way to the first ever International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) Triennial Congress on African soil.
Delegates at the five-day conference, which kicked off on Sunday in Durban, continue to discuss and debate issues around midwifery, with global estimates suggesting that around 364 000 women die in pregnancy and childbirth each year, and 99 percent of these deaths occur in low resource countries.
So far, there have been calls for governments worldwide to take the necessary steps to end to needless deaths of women in pregnancy and childbirth.
The South African Midwives’ Association put the programme together, which aims to strengthen the capacity of midwives to tackle the major causes of maternal mortality worldwide.
High profile maternal health advocates, including the First Ladies of Kenya and Malawi, will participate in a comprehensive peer reviewed scientific programme.
The programme will also include key contributions from global agencies, including the United Nations, Gates Foundation, Federation of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians alongside individual experts in clinical midwifery practice and policy.
During the weekend, 1 000 congress delegates and supporters walked 5km through the city to show their solidarity with mothers and midwifery colleagues across Africa, which has some of the highest rates of maternal and infant mortality in the world.
The ICM Congress will also see the launch of new global standards for midwifery education and professional regulation. These will provide national governments with the tools they need to address dangerous shortfalls in access to qualified midwifery and support them to deliver targets for maternal and infant health improvement.
They have been developed in consultation with professional midwives, educators and maternal health policy experts over three years.
Confederation President Bridget Lynch said: “This Congress sees midwives taking their place as an essential part of the maternal healthcare workforce and marks a milestone achievement for our profession.
“We are the first healthcare profession to establish global standards for education, regulation and midwifery competence. The standards pave the way for high quality midwifery services,” added Lynch. – Kemantha Govender, BuaNews