Twenty-seven midwives from 17 member associations in the European region attended this meeting, instigated by the English-speaking European midwives, in association with the regional representatives and hosted by Bund Deutscher Hebammen e.V. (BDH). Magdalena Weiss, President of the BDH. and Andrea Stiefel, who organised the meeting, welcomed the participants to Berlin. Ruth Brauen (Federation Suisse des Sages-femmes), delivered a message from the ICM Secretary General Kathy Herschderfer wishing the Pan European meeting well.
Lillian Bondo (Danish Association of Midwives) gave the Nordic Region Report. A Nordic Regional Conference had been held in Iceland in May 2004 (see report in IM 2004: 17(4): 42-43). The main areas of concerns were:
* medicalisation of childbirth and rising Caesarean section (CS) rates
* prescriptions and sponsorship in midwifery work
* choice or guided choice for women
* the different positions of midwives within antenatal care in Nordic countries--with some midwives having a high input (Sweden) and others low (Finland) into women's care
* the strengths of private and public provision
* Latvian and Estonian midwives are battling for recognition.
Renske Drejer (KNOV, The Netherlands) spoke for the Central European Region. Midwives from this region meet twice a year. The report highlighted key issues and goals, e.g:
* to raise public awareness of 'Midwifery Care'
* to strengthen midwifery as an autonomous profession by promoting independent education programmes and reflecting primary care
* to work in partnership with women to achieve good outcomes in birth and parenting.
Karlene Davis (Royal College of Midwives, UK) reported that representatives from the English-speaking Region had met in Dublin, Ireland, in October 2004. The Hellenic Midwives Association and the Independent Midwives Association (UK) joined the group. A letter signed by the Regional Representative on behalf of the English-speaking region, raising questions about direct-entry education provision and the law regulating midwives in Ireland, was sent to key influential personnel, which resulted in positive feedback. The midwives from Greece requested that a similar letter be written for their organisation as doctors were blocking direct-entry university education. The CS rate in Greece is a major concern (55% in the public sector, 72% in the private sector). Women's activist groups in Israel were assisting with raising the issue of...