Increasing the number of trained midwives, especially in low resource countries, is a life-saving intervention that must receive support from policy makers and funders if we expect to lower maternal and infant mortality rates, said the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) as it prepared to participate in World Health Day activities set for April 7th, 2005. The World Health Organization-sponsored program will focus on the health and well-being of mothers and babies by promoting best practices and well-known interventions designed for low-resource areas.
“ACNM hopes that public and private leaders throughout the world will commit to strengthening the home-to-hospital continuum of care that improves the lives of mothers and babies,” said Katherine Camacho Carr, CNM, PhD, president of the ACNM. “It is shocking to realize that more than half a million women around the world die from pregnancy-related causes and about 11 million children die, 40 percent of them in the first month of life, according to World Health Organization figures. ACNM is pleased to participate in this international effort to call attention to the problems faced by women and children around the world.”
ACNM developed the Life Saving Skills (LSS) manual and training program in 1990 to help midwives prevent maternal and infant mortality and morbidity by identifying and taking timely and appropriate action when problems occur in pregnancy, labor, delivery and the early postpartum period. The LSS manual and training program was designed to strengthen the skills of skilled facility based providers to address the major causes of maternal and infant mortality.
ACNM recently launched its innovative Home-based Life-Saving Skills program through the organization’s Department of Global Outreach. HBLSS is family focused, community-based program to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality and aims to educate, motivate and mobilize pregnant women and their families and communities to improve pregnancy outcomes. The HBLSS program consists of a flexible, modular design comprised of 12 preventive and life saving skill topics and features pictorial Take Action Cards for participants who may be unable to read. HBLSS was featured in a special International Health issue of the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health in July/August 2004.
HBLSS does not stand alone. Rather, it is envisioned as an integral part of a larger Community Partnership model. Within this model, there are additional community-supported interventions, which include emergency transportation, as well as orientation for both community and professionals. The program reinforces principal safe motherhood messages and a simple system of monitoring pregnancy outcomes. The facility-based Life Saving Skills training enhances the capacity for emergency obstetric care. Only after the entire continuum of care is strengthened will there impact on maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality.
ACNM is also a partner in the ACCESS Project (Access to Clinical and Community Maternal, Neonatal and Women's Health Services), a new USAID-funded partnership with the Johns Hopkins Program on International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics (JHPIEGO) and the following organizations: Save the Children; the Futures Group, the Academy for Educational Development (AED), and Interchurch Medical Assistance.
Information about World Health Day is available from the WHO online at http://www.who.int/world-health-day/2005/en/ and from the Pan American Health Organization online at http://www.paho.org/English/DD/PIN/whd05.htm. Learn more about ACNM’s HBLSS program by visiting http://www.midwife.org/dgo/index.cfm.