In recognition of her extensive work to improve maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH), spanning over two decades, the Founder-President of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, H.E. Mrs. Toyin Saraki, was on Sunday June 1st 2014, honored and announced as the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) Inaugural Global Goodwill Ambassador, during the ICM Triennial Congress running from the 1st to 5th of June at the International Congress Centre, Prague.
Themed “Midwives: Improving Women’s Health Globally,” the ICM Congress is addressing the key challenges facing midwives and maternity services around the world, recognizing the impact that the work of midwives have on the health of childbearing women, and therefore on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5. A keynote speaker at this event, H.E Mrs. Toyin Saraki also spoke on the theme: ‘Education: the bridge to midwifery and women’s autonomy.’
Since 2004, midwives have been at the centre of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa’s work in Nigeria. Currently, the Foundation continues to work towards equipping midwives with the tools they need, including its flagship WBFA Integrated Maternal Newborn and Child Health Personal Health Record (PHR)©, which supports expectant mothers and midwives to record and monitor progress during pregnancy and early childhood; and its safe delivery kits (“Mamakits”) which contain essential items to assist midwives in the safe delivery of newborns. The Foundation has also worked with the federal and local governments of Nigeria to improve the education, working conditions and remuneration of midwives, as well as deploying midwives to underserved, rural areas of the country.
Delivering the keynote speech, H.E Mrs. Toyin Saraki stressed that global development (MDG 8), is a key priority which can be achieved through strategic partnerships like the ICM and the Wellbeing Foundation Africa. “There are many lessons we can learn from each other, and lessons that can be applied around the world. We need global partnerships for a global problem. While health and social progress ultimately depends on the implementation of appropriate domestic policies, global partnerships can play a critical role in facilitating national efforts. I refer to a popular African proverb, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’”
Recently, on the 7th of April 2014, the Founder-President of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa visited the International Confederation of Midwives in The Hague, Netherlands, in furtherance of her commitment to improving maternal health and preventing needless deaths during childbirth. Meeting with Frances Day-Stirk, President of the International Confederation of Midwives; Frances Granges, CEO; and Marian Van Huis, Board Member and Treasurer, in addition to other staff members, H.E Mrs Saraki expressed the critical need to provide universal access to a well-educated, well-equipped, regulated midwifery workforce, especially at the grassroots level in developing countries.
Expressing her optimism about the year ahead, Mrs. Saraki stated “I am excited to be working with the International Confederation of Midwives to achieve our shared vision of a world where every childbearing woman has access to a midwife’s care for herself and her newborn.” Speaking about her new role, she said, “I am both honoured and humbled… Midwives are life-givers, care-givers, protectors and advocates. They dedicate their lives to delivering babies safely, getting newborns through those first few crucial moments of life, and, of course, saving the lives of mothers the world over, easing them into the daunting new world of motherhood.”
An accredited non-governmental organisation which supports, represents and works to strengthen professional midwives associations throughout the world, the ICM consists of 116 Midwives Associations, representing 101 countries across every continent. Together, these associations represent more than 300,000 midwives each committed to combatting the global maternal and newborn mortality crisis. The ICM Global Goodwill Ambassador role has therefore been created to raise awareness of midwives and the industry, to extend its influence, to lobby and advocate for maternal issues and child healthcare internationally and nationally.
Approximately 290,000 women and over 3 million infants die each year as a result of preventable pregnancy and childbirth complications, with over 99% of deaths occurring in developing countries. In addition, while educated midwives offer communities the most cost effective and high quality path to universal access to maternal healthcare, each year, 45 million births still take place without the help of a midwife. In order to tackle maternal mortality, the global shortage of midwives must be addressed promptly, especially as the international community looks to the Post-2015 development agenda.
The Wellbeing Foundation Africa