IDM 2021: keeping midwifery on the global agenda

By Trude Thommesen, Board Member, Northern European Region, International Confederation of Midwives on 05 May 2021 IDM - International Day of the Midwife Global midwifery Report State of Maternity Services Report

Dear midwives, colleagues and friends,

Happy International Day of the Midwife! Today we will once again put midwifery and women's sexual reproductive health and rights on the global agenda.

The theme for the IDM 2021 is Follow the data: invest in midwives.

After many years of advocacy for strengthening the capacity of midwives, growing evidence shows that midwives, working in an enabling environment, can improve quality care and prevent up to 67 per cent of maternal deaths and 64 per cent of neonatal deaths globally.

The study Potential impact of midwives in preventing and reducing maternal and neonatal mortality and stillbirths: a Lives Saved Tool modelling study, published in the Lancet in 2020, is the background for this year's IDM theme and is incredibly important both in our work to promote midwives and the midwifery profession - and also to achieve the UN's Sustainable Goal No.3. This article must not be put in a drawer but be used as an essential tool to promote midwives and advocate for quality midwifery care as the key for childbearing women. I hope you will all use it to lobby among colleagues, politicians, authorities and stakeholders, because high-income countries like ours still have a way to go.

One important event this year is the launch of the State of the World Midwifery Report 2021 before the World Health Assembly on 18 May. This report includes data about midwives not only from low-income but also from middle- and high-income countries. The UK will be included for the first time. It gives important and essential data about the individual country´s maternal and neonatal health status, and data about midwives including our education and regulation.

As a Board member, I am proud to present the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM)'s Strategic Plan for this triennium. Our first strategic priority is to Drive innovation and sustainability for the future of midwifery. We will foster and build a new generation of midwives through the exchange of knowledge between the generations and also by using more digital and mobile tools and resources. The latter has been amplified during the ongoing pandemic, where we have all had to meet virtually. 

The Member Associations in our region have discussed and decided which priorities to focus on and work for in this triennium. The RCM has taken the lead in the initiation of Leadership and the establishment of a Chief Midwife Officer in your country. I am proud of what the RCM has achieved and how this sets a good example for other associations. As colleagues and members of our ICM region, I wish that this success in the UK will inspire others to follow.

In addition, our region will prioritise to improve and develop the Midwife Led Continuity of Care, Midwives' Scope of Practice as well as direct entry Education of midwives. Much has been done to improve quality midwifery care in our region in general. However, if we want to see the true impact we midwives can have, we will need to make politicians, stakeholders and others understand the key role of midwives play when it comes to world health. 

ICM will continue to develop, strengthen and support a new professional framework for midwifery, and promote midwives as a distinct autonomous profession with our own philosophy. We will continue our work to ensure an enabling working environment for midwives, and strengthen both midwifery education, regulation and associations.

And we will drive and synthesize research, evidence and essential competencies for midwives.

There is a wind of change, and I am convinced that we will achieve this – if we work together in our regionally and internationally.

Happy IDM, everyone!