As they draw breath between delivering babies and saving the lives of mothers and newborns, midwives across the world have shown their passion to ensure that world leaders do more to help fill the health worker gap.
They have spoken out loud and clear. Women and children in poor countries must have access to a trained and supported health worker.
More than 5,000 midwives from 76 countries have signed a petition calling on leaders everywhere to show bold leadership and put midwives and other health workers at the heart of efforts to improve the health of mothers and their children.
When world leaders meet at the UN General Assembly this September to measure progress on the global strategy for women and children’s health, midwives are calling on them to take action and strengthen or increase their commitment to the education, recruitment and retention of midwives and health workers.
All around the world
The petition began as a joint initiative between Save the Children, the White Ribbon Alliance and the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM).
The first signatures were collected at the annual conference of the ICM, held in Durban in May. Impassioned midwives took the petition back to their home countries and called on their colleagues to join the call for more health workers.
In Nigeria, a rally for midwives was held and those who attended were asked to add their voice. In Tanzania, the local midwives association crossed the country with the petition, explaining the opportunity to midwives and garnering their support.
Now the signatures have been collected, midwives are making sure that the petition reaches the people who can bring about the changes they are looking for. Handovers are currently being organised in countries all over the world and some have already taken place.
Uganda takes action
In Uganda we handed over the petition to the Speaker of Parliament. As a result of the petition, the Social Services Parliamentary Committee has identified 34 billion Ugandan shillings ($12 million) in the health sector budget to be re-allocated to recruiting and retaining health workers with a focus on midwives. The government of Uganda has put this up on their website.
UK promises support
Yesterday the petition was handed over in the UK to DFID Minister Stephen O’Brien by Frances Day-Strik, President of the International Confederation of Midwives, and representatives from the White Ribbon Alliance and Save the Children.
Grabbing headlines in Sierra Leone
In Sierra Leone, we worked closely with the Sierra Leone Midwives Association, gathering around 370 signatures. The petition was presented to the Minister for Health and other government officials, along with our policy paper on midwifery.
Just the beginning
Deliveries of the petition have also taken place in Liberia, Japan and Nigeria. The details of each handover will be circulated soon. Handovers are being prepared for the coming days and weeks in Kenya, Tanzania, Canada, Australia, India, Malawi, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the USA.