The ICM joined many other global organisations in making the Women Deliver conference an outstanding success in drawing attention to maternal mortality and the associated suffering for children and families.
The ICM stand in the exhibition area was located to give maximum exposure to the new promotional photos on display and it drew many visitors who took away information about the 2008 Congress and other planned activities.
Secretary General Kathy Herschderfer led the team of representatives which included Deputy Director Bridget Lynch, and Board members Debrah Lewis, from Trinidad and Tobago, and Vitor Varela, from Portugal. Lennie Kamwendo from the Association of Malawian Midwives attended, and officers from the Royal College of Midwives UK also took a stand at the exhibition. It was a pleasure also to renew contact with Joyce Thompson, former ICM Director, Petra ten Hoope-Bender, former Secretary General, and long-term ICM supporters like Atf Gherissi of Tunisia, Ruth Brauen from Switzerland and Peg Marshall from the USA.
Other agencies prominent in the presentations at the conference were the White Ribbon Alliance, Family Care International and the Programme for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH).
The need for midwives
Among the many speakers who referred to the need for more midwives was Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of UNFPA, who called for a massive increase in recruiting and training new midwives.
Francisco Songane, head of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), agreed, but also emphasised the importance of functioning health systems.
Ellen Themmen, of Family Care International, spoke in a joint session on 'Increasing use of skilled care at childbirth in low-resource settings: evidence from the skilled care initiative'. More data are needed as to how best to carry out the required expansion of services. The changes are not always immediately attractive to women, and resources must be identified to ensure the benefits are explained and clarified. In addition, as ever, it is of the utmost importance that any new services are affordable, accessible and acceptable to women and their families.
Childbirth among young people
A recurring theme through many presentations was the vulnerability of young people to exploitation from outsiders--or even inappropriate treatment from their own communities, especially where girls are seen as less important in the priority for...