Thank you very much for your kind comment and question. I am delighted to be here alongside such brilliant champions for midwives and all frontline health workers, and as the proud Global Goodwill Ambassador for ICM.
I must begin by commending ICM, in particular Franka and Sally, on their outstanding work and advocacy representing over 600,000 midwives through their 132 midwifery associations in 113 countries. As we discuss making the case for midwifery and promoting midwives as integral to a successful, caring and nurturing health system, ICM is leading the way with smart and powerful initiatives. I was particularly touched by the recent launch of the ‘Midwifery Leaders Showcase’ which tells the stories of midwives all over the world in a series of featured interviews. In doing so, ICM demonstrates the dynamic and diverse roles that midwives play in shaping policy, leading civil society organisations, influencing professional practice and creating a better and brighter future for women, newborns and their families. It also features the Wellbeing Foundation’s own much-missed and dearly departed Felicity Ukoko.
It was in fact ICM’s 50,000 Happy Birthdays campaign that was the key evidence which led the Wellbeing Foundation to partner with Johnson & Johnson and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine to bring anatomical skills models-based teaching to midwives and doctors alike. We are now trying to take those same skills to preservice level.
I feel that the heart of midwifery competencies is directly relevant to your question – although I do advocate for midwives all over the world, I am aware that it is their stories and experiences which are the most powerful. Four years ago WBFA put midwives at the core of our programs to reach women and children across Nigeria and ensure they deliver safely and happily. Even when looking at new programs, I give our WBFA MamaCare midwives the platform to advocate themselves. For instance, alongside the WHO, Global Water 2020 and other partners, we recently launched a global WASH campaign, to improve water, sanitation and hygiene conditions in healthcare facilities, schools and communities. Whilst I am proud to lead the campaign, our best traction came from videos and accounts from our WBFA midwives, who took the materials to their communities and taught in their own inimitable style. In doing so, they make their own case for midwifery very successfully. They come across as they are – as Joy can attest, having visited MamaCare classes herself, WBFA midwives, like their colleagues all over the world, are motivated by a strong sense of duty and compassion. Their good humour and treasure trove of stories are the most persuasive qualities I know.
So whilst we lead the way for midwives, it is midwives themselves who lead the way so brilliantly. Our role must be to give them the platforms to do so.
Thank you again for the invitation to join you here today – and thank you most of all ICM for championing midwifery so effectively.