ICM assists at a 'rebirth': the Midwives Association of Sierra Leone: Nester T Moyo, ICM Senior Midwifery Adviser, describes the step-by-step process of bringing a midwifery association back to life after the damage of a civil war.

Author:Moyo, Nester T.
Position:International Confederation of Midwives
 
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The mission to Sierra Leone was carried out in a collaboration between the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) and Cordaid--an international development organisation with a network of partners in 36 countries--in a move to reduce maternal, newborn and child morbidity and mortality. ICM is grateful to Cordaid for making this mission possible as strengthening midwives associations is a core activity of the Confederation.

This trip formed the foundation for a number of activities with the Sierra Leone Midwives Association (SLMA) in strengthening the contribution of midwives and midwifery to the reduction of maternal, newborn and child morbidity and mortality in Sierra Leone and the general improvement of maternal newborn and child health in that country. Currently, Sierra Leone has one of the highest rates of maternal and neonatal deaths in the world.

Objectives

The objectives of the visit included:

* to make acquaintance with the association, and to meet other stakeholders

* to make an assessment of SLMA and, if appropriate, of other organisations of midwives in Sierra Leone;

* to elaborate an action plan to strengthening SLMA

* to support SLMA in reformulating an action plan with a budget for the first year.

The objective of getting in touch with stakeholders was achieved by meetings with the Ministry of Health and Reproductive Health Unit, the Medical Research Council and the Christian Hospitals Association of Sierra Leone (CHASL). Visits were scheduled to two government facilities and two privately owned facilities.

With the help of Piet van Gils, Cordaid Programme Officer, I met the Director General of Health Services, the Directors of Primary Health Care Services, NGO Liaison, Reproductive Health, Hospital Services, and Human Resources. The ICM aims were shared with the Director General, who pledged support for the midwives: all are anxious to do what will contribute to reducing maternal newborn and child mortality and morbidity. I was able to gain insights into areas where midwives can contribute under the auspices of these organisations. All agreed that midwives are the lynchpin of maternal, newborn and child health care provision.

Visits to the Reproductive Health Unit, the government hospitals and clinics and the private hospital and clinics showed conditions which emphasise the need for a strong association to develop standards of care and monitoring and supervision mechanisms. The head of UNFPA...

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