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Highlights and reflections of ICM 2017 Toronto - Part 1

Jacque Gerrard
11 August, 2017

Highlights and reflections of ICM 2017 Toronto - Part 1


It’s just over six weeks since we attended ICM 2017 in Toronto. The theme was  “Midwives making a difference in the world”. It was noisy, colourful, exciting and full of learning. What a treat to it was to be part of a global midwifery community. This wonderful event was superbly hosted by the Canadian Midwives Association  and from start to finish it was jam packed with presentations, symposiums, workshops, poster presentations, wonderful exhibitions, receptions, parties and the most important part, amazing midwives from every corner of the globe.

ICM Saturday 17 June

We marched for more midwives

Its not only England that is short of midwives but the fact is  the world is very short of skilled midwives particularly in developing and under resourced countries. This was hammered home to me when many of the UK midwives (including myself) participated in a march through downtown Toronto to raise awareness of the global shortage of midwives. The atmosphere was one of fun with drums, music, and dancing. A strong feeling of solidarity with the world’s midwives ranting and chanting about the need for more midwives globally was fantastic. I was interviewed by Girls Globe who videoed me and put the interview on line amongst many other midwives. 

ICM Sunday 18 June 2017

There is something about bringing midwives together in a room to talk and share experiences in the hope that you might just snatch a little nugget of something that you can learn from and take back and put it into your own practice. Whether that practice is clinical, educational, research or leadership, midwives  are always looking out for more to feed our insatiable appetite of improving care for women and their babies.

Imagine all of this this on a global scale in a room that holds over 4,500 midwives from 113 countries! We were from all races, and cultures and we were together on an even playing field at ICM 2017 to share  the evidence and the  learning on how to improve care  for mothers and babies.

The opening ceremony was part of the colour and it was ceremonial but with added noise and lots of fun and flags galore. The cheering, the applause the laughter and even some tears as we cheered  throughout the massive auditorium. The loudest cheers came from the 260  UK midwives. We were at our loudest for ex RCM  President Professor Lesley Page CBE. It was a very emotional moment as she marched in waving the union flag and proudly smiling as the whole of the UK midwives were on their feet in jubilation and applause.

The entertainment was interesting and a little different with dancing, rapping and throat singing as well as some some very moving and emotional speeches. The one that stands out for me was Celina Caesar Chavannes Parliamentary secretary to the minister of international development. Celina’s message of support for global midwifery came across loud and clear for the support of midwives and the recognition for the role they play in global health.

(Below, picture of UK midwives waiting for the opening of ICM)

ICM Begins

Monday: June 19 2017

The serious side to ICM begins. The programme was busy but the plenary sessions were not to be missed. Her excellency Toyin Saraki; ICM Global Goodwill Ambassador and founder of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa with a panel of highly respected advocates  discussed and debated the issue of millions of lives being lost in pregnancy and childbirth.

They appealed to governments and donors to pay attention to midwifery as one of the solutions to the problems and their wonderful mantra that was left with me was “midwives deliver much more than babies-midwives deliver lives”. (ICM2017)  

Speaking on a global stage

My first time speaking on an international platform was quite nerve racking but enjoyable. I spoke about the collaborative work that the RCM had done with the charity Best Beginnings and the Baby Buddy app that was now used by thousands of women across the UK. Alison Baum CEO of Best Beginnings was planning on presenting with me however work commitments kept her from joining me so I was on my own on the global stage. It was well received and the only tip I would give anyone planning to speak to the worlds midwives is remember to speak slow as not everyone’s first language is English.

To be continued...

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