Third International Confederation of Midwives Africa Regional Consultation (14-19 July ¦ Nairobi, Kenya)

Midwives have their say on ending preventable newborn deaths

Hosted by UNFPA, ICM, Johnson & Johnson and Laerdel , under the theme “Midwives impacting on Maternal and Child Health in Africa: Evidence and Opportunities for Improvement”, the Third ICM Africa Conference in Nairobi brought together more than 300 representatives from 20 African countries and set the scene for addressing quality newborn care through research presented at the Scientific Sessions.

The Conference also provided the first opportunity for midwives to ‘have their say´ during a consultation on the Every Newborn Action Plan. More than 34 participants from Africa, Europe and North America took part in this half day session facilitated by WHO, ICM and the University of Manchester’s Department of Midwifery.

The results from the consultation were significant, with analysis showing that bottlenecks and solutions are connected and taking place at two levels: the broader level of the health system, and at the specific level of providing midwifery care to newborns. More explicitly, stronger opinions were voiced on the following key trouble areas :

the historical absence of health system support for midwifery across Africa;
the absence of funding for programmes that support the midwives who care for the women and newborns;
that far too few skilled midwives were available to provide the quality of care needed at both facility and community level especially during the 24 hours around birth;
the long term lack of investment culminating in midwives not receiving either quality training or in-service support, and
the need for strengthened regulation and legislation to enable quality standards to be monitored.

Following the consultation, ICM has proposed immediate next steps and action by its members to support the Every Newborn process through a number of its channels. The ICM website will link to the consultation process whereby African midwives can feed in and share information with a wider network of stakeholders. International journals in midwifery will be requested to include sections through which midwives can ‘Have their say’ and finally the University of Manchester’s Midwifery Department will serve as a portal for UK midwives to stay informed on the process of engagement.

The spirit and finding s of the consultation are summarised best as a mission: “To end preventable newborn deaths, recognise that the midwife is the only professional who works in facilities and the community, across the continuum of care, for women, newborns and communities and is equipped with the skills and competencies to address the challenges”


  1. Consultation Outline
  2. Overview of the ‘Every Newborn’ global action plan: Dr Mary Bwalya and Fran McConville
  3. Every Newborn bottleneck analysis for midwives: Dr Mary Bwalya
  1. Visit the International Confederation of Midwives website

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