The ICM 'showcases'--a new feature at the international congress in Brisbane, Australia: representatives from ICM's global partner organisations came to Brisbane to tell midwives of their commitment to working together for safe motherhood.

The International Confederation of Midwives has always invited distinguished guests to its triennial congresses, but--as the ICM continues to gain influence and credibility among policy-makers at the global level--it was felt important on this occasion to give speakers from the most significant partners the opportunity to explain to the midwives in Brisbane how the collaboration with ICM works and how the future of joint work is envisaged.

World Health Organization

The first speaker, on the morning of Monday July 25, was Joy Phumaphi, Assistant Director General, Family and Community Health, WHO.

As the theme of Day 1 of the Congress was 'History', Joy had been asked to highlight the history of the collaboration between the ICM and the World Health Organization. However, she said that as she studied the details of the joint working over the years, she became convinced that the most important thing to focus on was the future.

To start with, Joy described what she felt was the 'unique point in history' of the present time. As had been clearly stated in the World Health Report 2005, 'With today's knowledge and technology, the vast majority of the problems that threaten the world's mothers and children can be prevented or treated'. Joy drove home this point, setting out in telling detail the fact that 'mankind has the capability to make birth a true celebration of life--and not a threat to life--for the 1 in 16 women in developing countries, or the 2.3 million stillborns and 3 million newborns that we lose every year?' She also asserted that 'we can ensure that every couple's need for reproductive health services is met' yet there are still 87 million unwanted pregnancies a year and 19 million women are pushed into a corner where they undergo life-threatening unsafe abortion. Mankind, she said, has the skills, resources and opportunity to ensure that women enjoy the right to life, have choices and be healthy; yet they still suffer debilitating conditions such as obstetric fistulae, because they are denied access to services and excluded from care.

At the World Health Assembly this year, all 192 member countries committed to the policy recommendations of the World Health Report 2005, Make every mother and child count:

* To end exclusion from life-saving health services and scale up effective programmes

* To protect and invest in human resources for health

* To engage communities in finding solutions and implementing them

* To stop out-of-pocket...

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