The International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) has provided its first-ever formal endorsement of a Midwife Kit as a standard for midwives trained to ICM’s competency standards. The Midwife Kit was developed by Direct Relief in consultation with ICM experts. Direct Relief will provide the kit free of charge to midwives in developing countries.
As many as one in 30 women will die from complications related to their pregnancy or childbirth. Skilled birth attendants such as midwives offer the single most consequential intervention for reducing the 289,000 maternal deaths that occur globally each year. While the global deficit of trained midwives stands at 350,000, even more lack the equipment needed to put their training to use.
“Many competent midwives are unable to use their life-saving skills because they lack the tools to provide the highest standard of care,” said Frances Ganges, ICM’s Chief Executive. “Equipping midwives with a kit of quality and appropriate tools will contribute to keeping mothers and their newborns safe during birth.”
The product of a two-year collaboration between Direct Relief and ICM, each Midwife Kit contains the 59 essential items a midwife needs to perform 50 facility-based deliveries. Items include surgical instruments, sutures, I.V. sets, neonatal resuscitation bags, headlamps, gloves, and cord clamps. The kit also includes pharmaceuticals such as misoprostol to manage post-partum hemorrhage and magnesium sulfate for eclampsia.
A Midwife for Every Delivery, a Kit for Every Midwife
“It is self-evident that educated and trained midwives, as all health professionals, need to be properly equipped to perform their lifesaving role,” said Direct Relief President and CEO Thomas Tighe. “Direct Relief is deeply thankful to ICM for helping develop a standard kit that will complement the competency standards that ICM has so carefully developed. We want to ensure that each midwife – particularly those in high-need developing countries where women and children are most at risk – have access to this kit.”
The Midwife Kits, valued at $1,250 or roughly $25 per safe birth, are provided free of charge to enable midwives to fully utilize their skills.
In the program’s pilot year, Direct Relief provided more than 400 kits to midwives with partner organizations in the following four countries: Medical Research Centre in Sierra Leone, Africare and Last Mile Health in Liberia, IPI Foundation, Inc. in the Philippines, and Edna Adan University Hospital in Somaliland.
“I can’t afford to buy the instruments and supplies I need,” wrote Filipino midwife, Jessievel Soria, among the first recipients of the ICM-endorsed Midwife Kit. “Thanks to the Midwife Kit, I can continue my services.”