Saturday, November 25, 2017

ICM, Save the Children award Afghanistan, Tanzania midwives for overcoming challenges

  • Nurul Islam Hasib from Toronto,
    Published: 2017-06-21 01:23:52 BdST

ICM President Frances Day-Stirk (R) presents the award to Afghan midwife Amina Sultani.

Midwives from Afghanistan and Tanzania have been awarded for their outstanding roles in developing the profession in their countries despite all odds.

Save the Children, and the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) presented International Midwifery Awards to Amina Sultani of Afghanistan and Loveluck Mwasha of Tanzania at a ceremony on Tuesday at the ICM 31st Triennial Congress in Toronto, Canada.

ICM President Frances Day-Stirk and Save the Children President and CEO Patricia Erb jointly presented the awards.

Every day in Afghanistan, 188 women and their babies die due to complications of pregnancy or childbirth. It means 68,500 deaths each year, 70 percent or more of which are preventable with proven and effective interventions.

In Tanzania, 257 women and their babies die due to complications of pregnancy or childbirth which mean 93,800 deaths each year, 70 percent or more of which are preventable with proven and effective interventions.

Midwives are seen as the single most important cadre for preventing maternal and newborn deaths and stillbirths.

Especially in humanitarian contexts and for poor or hard-to-reach populations, midwives provide the majority of immediate care to mothers and newborns, often without support, materials, training, or recognition.

Save the Children has partnered for with ICM since 2005 to recognise midwives who have made a difference in their countries by championing improved policies for funding and training skilled birth attendants; improving training, mentoring, and supportive supervision; or making an impact at scaling up midwifery at the national or regional level.

Amina Sultani has been a “steadfast advocate and leader” in the field of midwifery since 2012, working with the Kabul Medical University, the Afghan Midwives Association (AMA), and the Afghan Midwifery and Nursing Council, Save the children said.

In her current role at the Ministry of Public Health, Sultani is “deeply committed” to empowering midwives as leaders in health policy and programs.

She helped establish the first direct-entry midwifery bachelor’s degree in Afghanistan and taught courses in the program.

In her current role as vice president of AMA, she organises advocacy events and meetings with civil society and stakeholders, promoting the midwifery profession and issues surrounding maternal and newborn health.

Sultani said it was important for midwives to be “empowered and involved at every level, from the health facility to the Ministry of Public Health.”

“I tell all midwives, ‘please believe in your ability and believe in your power,’” she said.

“The midwife is the first person to touch the mother and baby. Midwives must believe in themselves so they can help and support the mother and baby. It's very important.”

Loveluck Mwasha during her 30 years as a midwife providing quality care for mothers and newborns in Tanzania.

She has also been a “steadfast advocate for and mentor” to midwives through her work on the board of the Tanzania Nursing and Midwifery Council and at the Aga Khan Hospital and University School of Nursing and Midwifery.

“My work is an opportunity to advocate for better support and training of midwives,” Mwasha said. “We work with stakeholders to help them appreciate midwives’ role in supporting women’s reproductive health, from community groups to members of parliament.”

The ICM President said the needs of midwifery across multiple settings – humanitarian, marginalised, or hard to reach – are remarkably similar.

“Both Loveluck and Amina are working for the same goals in very different settings: for the recognition of their work, supportive policies, and the training and resources they need to enable mothers to give birth safely and their newborns to get a healthy start in life,” she said.

Save the Children President said she was “impressed” by the level of interest in the awards this year.

Of the more than 50 nominations from 18 countries, Erb said, “It’s heartening to see this clear evidence of midwives speaking up and making a difference in policies and practices that affect midwifery and the conditions under which midwives work.”

The ICM is highlighting some of the challenges midwifery faces at the policy and facility level this week at its 2017 Triennial Congress in Toronto.