Building Health Systems that Work for Mothers, Newborns and Midwives

By Catharine Taylor

Catharine Taylor, a former practicing midwife, is the Vice President of the Health Programs Group at Management Sciences for Health (MSH). This post originally appeared on MSH’s Global Health Impact Blog

A midwife leads a pregnancy club in eastern Uganda. (Photo: Kate Ramsey/MSH)

For many people living in poor and underserved regions – whether rural communities or growing cities – midwives are the health system. Continue reading “Building Health Systems that Work for Mothers, Newborns and Midwives”

Person-centered group antenatal care in Eastern Uganda: Reaching women through pregnancy clubs

By Shafia Rashid and Kate Ramsey

Shafia Rashid is a Principal Technical Advisor for the FCI Program of Management Sciences for Health (MSH). Kate Ramsey is Senior Principal Technical Advisor for maternal and newborn health at MSH.

Women examine cards depicting health information during a pregnancy club session in eastern Uganda. (Photo: Kate Ramsey/MSH)

Improving the quality of care that women experience during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period has become a major global priority. Achieving good quality care requires not only clinical improvements, but also a person-centered approach that takes into account women’s and health workers’ needs and perspectives.

In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) updated its antenatal care guidelines, calling for a positive pregnancy experience through holistic, person-centered antenatal services that provide pregnant women with emotional support and advice in addition to the standard clinical assessments.

Group antenatal care, initially developed in the U.S. several decades ago, is a promising model that responds to women’s health and information concerns during pregnancy. Facilitated by a health provider, usually a nurse or midwife, group antenatal care offers a forum for pregnant women to learn more about their pregnancies, share their experiences, receive essential health and self-care information, and provide  social and emotional support to each other within the group. Health care providers meet individually with group participants after the group sessions  for routine physical and clinical care and to discuss any confidential issues. Group antenatal care can also benefit health care providers through increased job satisfaction without substantially increasing the amount of time required. Continue reading “Person-centered group antenatal care in Eastern Uganda: Reaching women through pregnancy clubs”

From fronteras to frontlines, Mexican midwives saving lives

Ariadna Capasso is senior technical advisor for the FCI Program of Management Sciences for Health (MSH). This post originally appeared on the MSH Health Impact Blog

Over the past year, Tijuana, Mexico, has seen an influx of U.S.-bound Haitian migrants fleeing communities left in disrepair from the 2010 earthquake and further devastated by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. These migrants often begin their journey in Latin America and trek through multiple countries and hostile terrain only to find they cannot enter the U.S. once at the border. Among the stalled Haitian migrants living in makeshift shelters as they contemplate their next steps, pregnant women face another uncertainty: whether they or their baby will languish during pregnancy and childbirth without access to skilled maternal and newborn health care.  Recognizing this health crisis, a group of midwives, Parteras Fronterizas (Borderland Midwives in English), arrived on the scene to provide antenatal and safe childbirth care, with help from women who translated from Spanish or English to Haitian Creole.

Parteras Fronterizas embodies the reason we celebrate the International Day of the Midwife–to honor the many midwives around the world who work on the frontlines to deliver high-quality, respectful care to women and newborns during pregnancy and childbirth. At the Third Regional Forum of the Mexican Midwifery Association in late April 2017, traditional and professional midwives, medical doctors, health managers, doulas and midwifery students gathered together to share midwifery practices and strategies for advancing the midwifery profession in Mexico.

Indigenous midwives’ centre, Chiapas, Mexico
Photo credit: Simon Chambers/PWRDF

Continue reading “From fronteras to frontlines, Mexican midwives saving lives”

Healthy Women, Healthy Nations

By Fatimata Kané

Fatimata Kané is Project Director of the FCI Program of MSH in Mali. This article originally appeared on the MSH Health Impact Blog. Read this article in French

Photo: Catherine Lalonde

Putting a child on the earth is a whole different type of work. Not everyone can guide a woman and her baby safely through pregnancy and childbirth.

I know what it means to keep women and babies alive and healthy because I am a midwife. Continue reading “Healthy Women, Healthy Nations”

Femmes saines, nations en santé

Par Fatimata Kané

Fatimata Kané est directrice  du programme FCI de MSH au Mali.

Photo: Catherine Lalonde

Mettre un enfant au monde est tout un travail différent. Tout le monde peut aider quelqu’un qui est malade, mais tout le monde ne peut pas faire le travail d’une sage-femme–guider une femme et son bébé en toute sécurité pendant la grossesse et l’accouchement. Je sais ce que signifie garder les femmes et les bébés vivants et en bonne santé parce que je suis une sage-femme. Continue reading “Femmes saines, nations en santé”

Trump’s global gag rule silences doctors and midwives and harms their patients

By Catharine Taylor

Catharine Taylor is Vice President for health programs at Management Sciences for Health. This post originally appeared on STAT News

Midwifery students in Sierra Leone, which has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Funding for safe pregnancy and delivery worldwide is threatened by President Trump’s reinstatement of the global gag rule. (Photo by MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump’s reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy, better known as the global gag rule, came as no surprise to anyone working in the field of global health. We have been through this before — in 1984, when the policy was first put into effect by President Reagan, and then in 1993, 2001, and 2009, when it was repealed, reinstated, and repealed again.

The Mexico City Policy is called a gag rule because it limits not just what organizations and health providers do but what they are permitted to say. It prevents foreign organizations that receive US government funding from performing abortions — even if they are using funds from non-US government sources and even if abortion is completely legal in their countries.

The global gag rule also steps right between a woman and her doctor, nurse, or midwife, preventing these frontline health providers from telling their patients about the full, legal range of health options available to them. It forbids trusted advisers from giving honest, comprehensive health advice and information. I started my career as a nurse-midwife, and then worked in maternal and newborn health programs in Africa and Asia, so I know what this will mean for the lives and health of women and their families. Continue reading “Trump’s global gag rule silences doctors and midwives and harms their patients”

Keeping it real: Accountability for women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health during the SDG era

“It’s important we ask women what’s actually happening on the ground. After all these strategies and initiatives, women are still giving birth on the floor. And they have to get their own water!” said Caroline Maposhere, a Zimbabwean nurse-midwife and civil society advocate, from the floor of the 5th Annual Breakfast for Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health, September 18.

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Caroline Maposhere shares her experience working as a midwife in Zimbabwe. (Photo by J. Cook Photography)

Continue reading “Keeping it real: Accountability for women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health during the SDG era”

Global Leaders in Maternal and Newborn Health: Dr. Hemant Shah (India)

By Kayla McGowan, Project Coordinator, Women and Health Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health 

This article originally appeared on the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) blog.

In July 2016, global leaders gathered for the second annual Safe Mothers and Newborns Leadership Workshop (SMNLW) hosted by the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) in partnership with the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and The Aga Kahn University and sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The participants represented 26 countries from five continents.

Hemant Shah is Chief of Party, Technical Support Unit for CARE SMNLW participant Hemant Shah is Chief of Party, Technical Support Unit for CARE. He previously worked as the Director of the State reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, adolescent (RMNCH+A) unit in Bihar as well as a maternal health expert in the Integrated Family Health Initiative project and led quality improvement activities in health facilities in Bihar. Continue reading “Global Leaders in Maternal and Newborn Health: Dr. Hemant Shah (India)”

Delivering care, delivering change for women and babies: Latin American midwives build skills for country-level advocacy

Ariadna Capasso is senior technical advisor for the FCI Program of Management Sciences for Health.

We know how to prevent maternal and newborn deaths, but globally, almost 300,000 women and 3 million newborns continue to lose their lives because they lack access to high-quality obstetric services–services which midwives provide. Skilled midwives can prevent up to two-thirds of maternal and newborn deaths by ensuring a safe birth for both mother and baby and responding quickly when complications arise.

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Photo by Joey O’Loughlin

Midwives not only provide essential care, they also provide a powerful voice for policies and programs that advance access to affordable and high-quality health services. They understand the health needs of women and newborns, as they work to meet those needs everyday. And they experience, firsthand, the gaps in health systems, from human resources and infrastructure to regulations that limit their practice.

Continue reading “Delivering care, delivering change for women and babies: Latin American midwives build skills for country-level advocacy”

Nongma Sawadogo, midwife and reproductive health champion in Burkina Faso

(Version française ci-dessous)

 

Photo by Catherine Lalonde
Photo by Catherine Lalonde

Nongma Evariste Sawadogo is a trained midwife. He joined Family Care International (FCI) two years ago as a program officer and managed Burkina Faso’s reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) projects. He will soon join Management Sciences for Health (MSH) as a member of the recently launched FCI Program.

Nongma is passionate about improving RMNCH in his country and community. He works with community-based organizations, leads workshops, provides technical support to community health facilities, and evaluates projects to advance RMNCH and to ensure the greatest impact for women and children.

Continue reading “Nongma Sawadogo, midwife and reproductive health champion in Burkina Faso”