I'm back in Dhaka (Bangladesh), five weeks after my last visit in July, to help facilitate the first ever online election of executive officers for the Bangladesh Midwifery Society which is twinned with the Royal College of Midwives. I am the Project Leader for this twinning project which builds on the RCM's previous twinning work with midwives associations in Cambodia, Uganda and Nepal.
The government of Bangladesh is to be congratulated on its commitment to midwifery, a new profession here. The first ever international-standard midwives were deployed into government service on 1st July and midwifery education only started in 2013. The governments of the UK, Sweden and Canada are funding a national strengthening midwifery programme through the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and coordinated by UNFPA. Our twinning project is a part of this, aiming to develop midwife leaders to advance the profession.The International Confederation of Midwives suggests that midwifery has three 'pillars' - education, regulation and professional association. So our work is vital to develop a strong midwifery profession. Other implementing partners in the Strengthening Midwifery programme include Save the Children, the Obstetric and Gynaecological Society of Bangladesh, UCEP and Dalarna University. Through these organisations midwife teachers are being supported and developed, newly qualified midwives are being mentored, and health facilities are being upgraded along with skills and language labs and academic libraries. The scale and scope of the programme is impressive and this afternoon we were all called to a meeting to update each other and high-ranking ministry officials on progress towards our objectives.
Jesmin and I felt relaxed presenting together, having honed our presentation skills in Dubai last week at the International Confederation of Midwives Regional Conference for Asia. The conference was a wonderful opportunity, not only to present our twinning work from Bangladesh but also to catch up with twinned partners from Nepal and Cambodia and the wider ICM community. We were honoured with a visit from Princess Muna al-Hussein, a global ambassador for nursing and midwifery. I was also delighted to have the company of my daughter Hannah (19) in Dubai. I've been away from home for almost 3 months with travel to Bangladesh and Uganda, so it was great to catch up, sharing a room and experiencing the sights of Dubai together. We watched a movie in the cinema and wandered around shopping malls, things we never get a chance to do in the UK.
Once the elections are over in Bangladesh, we will be focusing on supporting the new executive committee, whilst honouring the contributions of the outgoing executive and ensure a smooth handover. We will be evaluating the first phase of the project during the next quarter and planning for a further three years of partnership. We are also interviewing for a new RCM Global Projects Officer, to be other half of my team, on the day after I return from Bangladesh so hopefully I can fight the jet-lag and stay awake for the duration of the interviews!