In the lead up to the 2016 Women Deliver Conference in Copenhagen, the UNFPA, the World Health Organization and the International Confederation of Midwives held a satellite Midwifery Symposium titled ‘Young Midwives in the Lead’.
- Support young midwives with leadership potential to become powerful strategic leaders and advocates, who can engage in national policy dialogues with a stronger evidence-based voice.
- Emphasise the vital role that midwives can play in achieving the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and equip them with increased knowledge about global commitments, latest research findings and evidence base, and knowledge of global midwifery programmes to fulfil this role.
- Create a global network of YMLs to serve as a platform for exchanging good practices and innovations for improving quality of midwifery care and enabling the young midwives to have a wider impact across the entire health and social care system.
- Showcase how global investments in YML can help improve quality of midwifery practice and emphasising the importance of investment in research, advocacy, mentorship and leadership skills of young midwife leaders.
The organisers of the Symposium invited the Coordinator for the Maternal Death Surveillance and Response Action Network, Dr Louise Hulton, to participate as a technical resource and an advocate to raise awareness of the MDSR network.
In a session titled ‘Harnessing the Evidence’, Dr Hulton worked with a group of Young Midwife Leaders to familiarise them with the process of MDSR and to support them to take the lead in advocating for the MDSR model in their home countries. She was joined by Louise Silverton from the Royal College of Midwives who supported the exercise.
The session was the perfect opportunity to engage YMLs in a discussion about the importance of their role in every aspect of the cycle of MDSRs, from the identification and notification of maternal deaths, through the review and analysis process, to the creation, implementation and monitoring of recommendations to improve quality of care.
It was emphasised that the fundamental principles of the MDSR model protect and support health workers through the process, with Confidentiality, Anonymity and a ‘No name, no blame’ culture essential to the success of the model.
Dr Hulton explained the role that midwives and other healthcare actors can play in establishing these principles:
- Confidentiality: local data collectors and involved health care workers should be the only staff to see the names of the deceased and keep that knowledge contained within the review committees. All individuals with access to identifying information should sign a non-disclosure confidentiality agreement.
- Anonymity: all paperwork involved in the reviews should have identifying names obscured or absent to protect the patient, family, friends, and staff members involved.
- ‘No name, no blame’ culture: there needs to be acknowledgements throughout the health system that mistakes do happen, and a constructive approach taken when they do. Learning from mistakes allows preventive measures to be taken in the future. ‘No blame’ should never mean ‘no accountability’, but support and training are better solutions to preventing future deaths than encouraging healthcare workers to shoulder blame. The establishment of a multi-professional committee to oversee MDSR can go a long way towards building a sense of solidarity and understanding of the crucial role that each cadre of worker, including midwives, plays in the process. This sort of committee can also bring in new perspectives on the process and draw a fuller picture.
Finally, the YMLs were engaged in a short role play where they were asked to make the case to Clinical Officer (played by International Confederation of Midwives’ Senior Midwifery Advisor, Nester Moyo) for introducing MDSR to measure maternal and newborn deaths and identify evidence-based actions needed to improve quality of care.
The YMLs stepped up to the challenge and delivered a compelling case to the Clinical Officer for establishing MDSR in order to create an evidence-based culture of accountability and action for women and babies.
The training and advocacy opportunity for these YMLs during the ‘Harnessing the Evidence’ session directly delivered on the objectives of the Symposium by providing YMLs with the practical tools to be able to draw on evidence, strategically advocate for improvements, and in so doing, take the lead on MDSR.
To read more about the Midwifery Symposium and to hear the voices of the YMLs, please visit the ICM website here.
This case study was informed by feedback from Dr Louise Hulton and materials drafted for the ‘Harnessing the Evidence’ session.