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Maternal Health

The Newly Launched Global Midwives’ Hub Helps Midwives Undertake Research and Support Advocacy

The hub provides information about the state of midwifery around the world, and is intended for midwives and their associations.

A midwife listens to a fetal heartbeat using a Pinard horn. (Photo by Kate Holt for Jhpiego)
A midwife listens to a fetal heartbeat using a Pinard horn. (Photo by Kate Holt for Jhpiego)

A newly launched digital resource is designed to enable midwives around the world to undertake research and advocate for their profession and communities.

The Global Midwives’ Hub, a collaboration between the International Confederation of Midwives and Direct Relief, launched today. Click here to explore the hub.

Drawing from information that midwives’ associations around the world have gathered – along with other national and sub-national statistics and information – it provides actionable data that these organizations can draw upon to learn more about the state of the profession in their country and worldwide. This information can then be used to help advocate for midwife-led continuity of care.

A map from the Global Midwives’ Hub that shows which national health care systems rely on a midwife-led continuum of care. (Direct Relief image)
A map from the Global Midwives’ Hub that shows which national health care systems rely on a midwife-led continuum of care. (Direct Relief image)

Midwives play indispensable roles in their communities, providing sexual and reproductive health care and education, vaccinations, and other essential health services. Midwife-led care has been proven to improve health outcomes for women and infants, and to be highly beneficial to larger communities.

That means that, as trusted and relied-upon health care workers, midwives are in a unique position to understand the needs of their communities and to advocate for necessary changes.

“This work demonstrates that midwives are not only saving lives and contributing to healthier communities, but are also the creators of open data and the resulting advocacy initiatives that stem from their contributions as midwives,” said Dr. Sally Pairman, the chief executive of the International Confederation of Midwives.

A midwife cares for a mother and baby. (Courtesy photo)
A midwife cares for a mother and baby. (Courtesy photo)

“They really are leaders in their field of work,” said Jessica White, the geographic information system project specialist at Direct Relief, who has been extensively involved in the development of the Global Midwives’ Hub. The hub, White explained, is “to promote autonomous midwives, to improve geographic data literacy, to cultivate community between midwives’ associations, ultimately improving maternal and newborn health in these countries.”

The hub gathers information relevant to midwives worldwide, including information about where they are educated; where they practice; how they are regulated, led, and represented; and where they are most needed. The goal is for midwives to use this data to better understand what midwifery looks like on global, national, or sub-national levels, and to help them find actionable, effective ways to benefit their profession and communities.

Although the hub is newly launched, four midwifery-related projects are already underway. Midwives’ associations in Argentina, Malawi, Namibia, and Switzerland are drawing on the hub’s resources to create projects designed to better understand and serve their nations’ needs.

A map from the Global Midwives’ Hub showing the number of midwifery education institutions in countries around the world. (Direct Relief image)
A map from the Global Midwives’ Hub showing the number of midwifery education institutions in countries around the world. (Direct Relief image)

For the Association of Malawian Midwives, for example, the hub provides an opportunity to learn more about where women of childbearing age may be underserved, and how best to position new facilities aimed at serving them.

White explained that Malawian citizens are supposed to have access to health care within eight kilometers – a distance of about five miles. The association wanted to see how many women of childbearing age had access to health care within distances of both five and eight kilometers.

In addition, the country has a number of retired midwives interested in opening new maternal delivery centers to serve their communities, and part of the association’s work with the hub is to figure out how best to strategically locate these facilities.

The hope is that these projects are only the beginning, and that midwives all over the world will find the resources they need to take on new projects to benefit their countries and communities.

To explore the Global Midwives’ Hub, click here.

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