The work of our midwives, ensuring high quality care and continuity of care, is too often unsung. On International Day of the Midwife 2020, we recognise their pivotal role.
Midwives work in Médecins Sans Frontières’ highest level hospitals, and our most basic health centres. They play a critical role in health promotion, disease prevention and patient education.
They are often the first point of care in their communities, as confidants and as clinicians. They are a constant presence at the bedside of people who need ongoing medical care. They are a trusted companion in childbirth, and a trusted comfort in death.
Kate Edmonds is an Australian midwife with a background in sexual violence care who worked in rural and remote Australia before joining MSF. She has worked in Peshawar Women’s Hospital in Pakistan, in the ‘hospital on the hill’ in Kutupalong, Bangladesh, and most recently in the world’s second largest refugee camp in Uganda.
It was amazing for me to see how midwives with limited experience could understand that a woman-centred approach makes a big difference. They were so very thirsty to learn, to have information and training.
In Uganda I was no longer in a maternity unit. I was training up midwives to be able to provide care for women, and men, who had been sexually violated as they fled from South Sudan, or after they arrived. To sit and listen to how the midwives elicited information from the women and men about their experiences was extraordinary. They had undergone training with MSF, but their approach seemed innate.
I feel a profound solidarity working with nurses and midwives in different countries and understanding where they have come from themselves.
Compared to how easy it was for me to choose to be a midwife, many of them have had to convince their families and their community that this is what they really want to do. They have had to find the money to pay for their education, which may have meant working at the same time as studying. I am in awe of their struggle.”