In January 2005 the former Central European Region held a Pan-European meeting (see IM March/April 2005; p 16-17) to prepare for the Brisbane Congress and to discuss a new structure for the European regions. Our proposal of three instead of live regions was adopted in Council and on February 18, 2006, our first Central European Meeting was opened in the Vivantes Klinikum Berlin Neukolln by Andrea Stiefel from BDH e.V. (German Midwives Association), who was elected a Board member at the Brisbane Council.
Of 18 member associations in the region, 15 sent delegates to work on an action plan for the Triennium. Member associations from Poland, Hungary and Romania did not respond to the invitation, but we will strengthen efforts to contact and keep the associations informed. We also have to clarify whether the midwives from Israel or the Lebanon want to belong to our region. Political influences make it difficult for them to stay in the Mediterranean region together.
Our two days were filled with ICM business and strategic development. The most interesting part were the country reports. We learned a great deal about the policy within our member associations and how to address future needs for midwives, women and families in our countries. Although we come from countries with a diversity of health care systems, we understood the common issues and we recognised the vital importance of networking. Central Europe has a tradition of strong associations and we would like to highlight a few of our activities, developments and future plans.
Austria: The President of Osterreichisches Hebammen Gremium, Renate Grossbichler-Ulrich and Maria Spernbauer, former ICM President, informed us that in 2005 Austria established education for midwives at tertiary level. Future plans include: a higher salary for midwives especially when they have a higher qualification; paid consultations during pregnancy and access to primary midwife care for pregnant women; negotiating a new contract with health insurers.
Belgium: Serena Debonnet reported that midwives in Belgium have been very active since they celebrated the 10th anniversary of Vlaamse Organisatie van Vroedvrouwen in 2004. Special groups work on issues such as: basic and ongoing midwifery education; independent midwifery; scientific research; childbirth education; profile of midwifery in society; and the midwifery magazine. Each group has a coordinator, who is also a member of the Board. As well as many achievements...