'The world needs midwives--now more than ever'--International Day of the Midwife 2006: midwives and others around the world celebrated the International Day on May 5.


In Afghanistan

On May 1,250 members of the Afghan Midwives Association (AMA) assembled in Kabul to celebrate their first anniversary. The second annual congress of the Afghan Midwives Association was opened by Dr Nadera H. Burhani, RH Deputy Minister, MOPH, who spoke to the midwives about their important role in reducing Afghanistan's high maternal mortality rate. Pashtoon Azfar, the president, spoke about the outstanding achievements of the year. The association has been officially accepted as a member of the International Confederation of Midwives and registered with the Afghan Ministry of Justice. Over 18 provincial AMA groups have been formed and 650 midwives have joined the association. Afghan midwives have travelled to midwifery meetings in Australia and to the USA where Pashtoon Azfar received an award for her leadership of the AMA.

In recognition of the support that the association has received during the year from USAID, the Ministry of Public Health and many NGOs, awards were presented to Jim Griffin, Senior Health Advisor, USAID; Jeff Smith, Safe Motherhood Advisor, REACH; Minister Sayed M. Amin Fatimi, MOPH; midwife Sheena Currie, Midwifery Advisor, REACH; midwife Addie Koster, Midwifery Course Coordinator, Takhar; and midwife Anne Richter from the American College of Nurse-Midwives. The association was grateful for the donations received from USAID and UNFPA to the support of the congress.

Throughout the two days, sessions were conducted on prevention of post-partum hemorrhage; achieving success as a new midwife; increasing respect for midwifery; and promoting financial sustainability for the association.

On the last day of the congress, midwife Rona Azamyar, Course Co-ordinator in Badhakshan, spoke to the midwives about the International Day of the Midwife which is celebrated throughout the world on May 5. This year's theme, The World Needs' Midwives--Now More than Ever is especially relevant in Afghanistan where only 14% of births are attended by skilled birth attendants. The midwives planned events throughout the country to mark the day, including a competition to design a poster, won by the midwives from Wardak (winning poster below).

In Burundi

Dans la nuit du 30 avril 2006, les sages-femmes du Burundi n' avaient pas crus a leurs oreilles quand son excellence le President de la republique du Burundi Pierre Nkurunziza annonca publiquement la gratuite de tous les actes et soins lies a l' accouchement et soins des enfants de 0 a 5 ans dans tous les hopitaux et centre de sante publics sur toute l' etendue de la republique du Burundi. Cette mesure aussi importante vient a point nomme car le taux d'accouchement dans les hopitaux et centre de sante n' etait pas satisfaisant si l' on se refere au nombre des femmes presentes aux consultations prenatales.

Pour temoigner leur soutien total a la mesure du chef de l' etat. Mme Goreth (sage-femme) a remis au noms des sages-femmes du Burundi un cadeau a une maman qui venait juste d'accoucher dans une maternite de Rutana (sud-est du Burundi) le vendredi 05 mai 2006, quelques minutes avant la visite des membres du comite d'initiative pour la mise en place d'une association des sages-femmes du Burundi. Dans son discours de circonstance, Mme Goreth, sage-femme membre du comite d'initiative, a rappele aux sages-femmes et autres professionnels de sante que cette mesure du President ne pourra etre effective que si tous les sages-femmes que nous sommes, restons fideles aux code et ethiques de la deontologie de notre profession. Nous devons doubler d'effort pour faire face a ce defi et ainsi la reussite de cette mesure au Burundi pourra servir d'exemple a d 'autres pays pour des mamans et des enfants en bonne sante et pour des maris heureux, a t-elle conclu.

La profession de sage-femme commence a s' installer au Burundi lentement mais surement car la seule ecole qui forme les sages-femmes est a sa troisieme promotion. Nous sommes pour le slogan >.

On the night of April 30 2006, midwives in Burundi could hardly believe their ears when they heard his Excellency the President of the Republic of Burundi Pierre Nkurunziza publicly announce that all services linked to delivery and care of infants aged 0-5 years would be free of charge at all hospitals and health centres throughout the country. This important measure comes at a critical point given the fact that the rate of delivery in hospitals or medical centres (attended by professional caregivers) was far below that hoped for as relates to the number of women attending prenatal consultations.

In order to show their support for this new measure to the head of state, Mme Goreth (a midwife) presented in the name of all the midwives of Burundi a gift to a mother who had just given birth in a maternity clinic in Rutana (in the South-East of Burundi) on Friday 5 May 2006, just a few minutes before the visit of members of an initiative committee for establishing an association of midwives in Burundi. In her discourse, Mme Goreth, midwife of the initiative committee, reminded midwives and other health professionals that the president's measure can only be put into effect if all of Burundi's midwives remain faithful to the code of ethics of our profession. Midwives have to double their efforts, she said, in order to meet the challenge and ensure the success of this measure in order to serve as an example for other countries in improving the health and outcomes of women, their children and their families. The midwifery profession is slowly but surely starting to establish itself firmly in Burundi with a programme for midwives now in its third year. We proudly want to declare to the world that we stand firmly behind the 2006 International Day of the Midwife slogan: 'The world needs midwives--now more than ever'.

NONDHO OMBENNY Jess-Alfred: nondho@yahoo.fr

In Dubai, United Arab Emirates

ICM Director Judi Brown is seen below at the IDM celebrations at the Al Wasl Maternity Hospital in Dubai. Judi, whose current role is Director of Nursing & Midwifery Development for the...

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