ICM Southern Europe Region: new goals and priorities in education and practice: Vitor Varela, ICM Board member in the Southern Europe Region, brought together midwives from the Mediterranean countries to agree a new plan for action.

Position:International Confederation of Midwives
 
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Vitor writes: During the first regional meeting of this triennium--held in Athens, Greece, on 12-13 January, we had a priority: to make our Action Plan.

Vision

First, we discussed how we would envisage an ideal situation for midwives in this region. We agreed on two significant points of great importance:

* Midwives are educated within the European Higher Education Area and are qualified for autonomous practice

* Midwives aim to achieve optimal health for mothers and newborns.

Goals

Secondly, we worked to identify specific goals that will take us forward towards achieving the vision.

* To promote midwifery education (direct university entry) within the European Higher Education Area and to ensure that midwives are qualified for autonomous practice

* To ensure that midwives are responsible for and act as educators in midwifery programmes

* To promote the midwifery profession and the value of the midwife in keeping birth normal.

Actions

Finally, consideration of the vision and goals led to the formation of a more detailed action plan.

The educational programme should be based on competencies, specifically on the ICM's Essential Competencies for Basic Midwifery Practice.

A midwifery educational programme must have access to the three levels of undergraduate and postgraduate education--BSc, MSc and PhD in midwifery--in accordance with the cycles of education set out in the Bologna Declaration (www.bologna-berlin2003.de/pdf/bologna_declaration.pdf). Midwifery knowledge and competencies must be evidence based.

In midwives' clinical practice, the important aspects are: strengthening physiological processes during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period, and avoiding unnecessary interventions, i.e. those not based on clinical needs, during pregnancy and childbirth. Last but not least, we included 'Empowering midwives to feel competent and safe in their midwifery skills in normal childbirth'; and 'Empowering women to have access to evidence-based midwifery care'.

Priorities

We saw as the greatest priority the development of Midwifery Education in all levels, according to the Bologna Declaration. We aim to ensure the provision of life-long, evidence-based education in midwifery. A further priority is to carry out work to identify the particular needs of both women and midwives--through a research process--to contribute to the practice of normal childbirth.

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