Calling all midwives to take action to save women’s lives

A great majority of the 289,000 maternal deaths, estimated to have happened globally in 2013, could be avoided if we had the skills and the will to do so.  Midwives can bring these skills, confirms the State of World’s Midwifery 2014 Report.  The on-going 30th Triennial Congress of the International Confederation of Midwives, affirms the will of midwives to share knowledge to build high-quality care for women and children.  The MDSR Action Network offers the opportunity to bring the skills and will together.

Midwives help bring new lives into the world and safeguard mothers and babies throughout pregnancy, childbirth and post-natally. However, even the best of efforts as clinicians are sometimes not enough to help every mother and baby survive. But it is possible to learn from such experiences and take action, to stop future preventable deaths. Each maternal death has an important story to tell and can provide insights and point to practical ways to prevent avoidable deaths in the future. And midwives have an active role to play in the MDSR process.

As the State of the World’s Midwifery Report 2014, shows midwives when educated, regulated to international standards and supported to do so, are capable of providing 87% of the essential care needed for women and newborns.  Midwives can provide all basic emergency obstetric care (BEmOC) signal functions.  However, they are often responsible for referrals to higher levels of care in complicated cases, and face issues that involve actions which can increase the chances of maternal survival. There is valuable learning and experience here that could be a part of the MDSR process. Midwives are in an ideal position to implement quality of care improvements.

As Edel Manning, Midwife and MDE Ireland Co-ordinator says “Internationally, models of maternity care and access to health services vary between and within countries. Regardless of the model of care, midwives play an integral role in the support and care of mother and baby. A core concept of midwifery care is to act as an advocate for the welfare of mother and baby. As such midwives are ideally placed to advance MDSR internationally and the value of their support cannot be underestimated. Midwives can contribute to the surveillance process and as part of the multidisciplinary team their contribution to multidisciplinary case review is essential in order to learn lessons.”

ICM midwife-webMDSR is meant to be a collaborative effort amongst all health professionals involved in RMNH care, from community health workers to midwives to OB/GYNs to reflect on and review each maternal death to derive learning and see what could be done better. But most importantly it is not just knowing what could be done better but actually ensuring as a team that such action takes place. Given midwives’ frequent role as advocates for maternal health, joining forces with other professional associations such as nurses or OB/GYNs could make a real difference to the roll-out of strong MDSR systems in each country.

Midwives can help advocate for the setting-up and strengthening of MDSR systems, contribute to the MDSR processes and share the learning from these processes with peers globally. MDSR can tell us what the gaps are and where the need for action is. Midwives, alongside others, armed with information could help to pressurise politicians and decision-makers keep-up to the promises they have made for maternal and newborn survival, and to invest money in making health systems stronger.

The MDSR Action Network is one such platform where such relationships could be built. The network needs midwives to join forces with professionals globally. Read our MDSR Action Network leaflet_for midwives– and join us!