Midwives are not only experts in providing lifesaving care to women and their newborns, but they’re also powerful advocates for reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health.
Midwives Forward, in partnership with Say It Forward, works in Burkina Faso and Bolivia to strengthen midwifery associations through exchanges that enable midwives to share critical knowledge, their experiences and the challenges they face working in low-resource, rural communities.
In the remote, arid Sahel region in northern Burkina Faso, women and their newborns are much more likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth, than are women in other parts of the country. The majority of women--particularly in the Sahel’s hundreds of small, semi-nomadic villages--still give birth at home without the help of a skilled birth attendant.
Midwives Forward will bring together midwives who work in the Sahel to deliver lifesaving care to women and newborns. At regular meetings, they will share their experiences, discuss challenges they face in their work, and develop plans for reaching more women and their families. Midwives will also share their perspectives and stories from their work with religious and cultural leaders—the majority of whom are male and non-health professionals. These religious and cultural leaders, in turn, can encourage women and their families to seek health services and avoid practices that could be he harmful to maternal and newborn health.
Many women from poor indigenous villages in the Bolivian lowlands have to travel hours by boat or on foot to reach the nearest health facility. Because the journey to the clinic is difficult, women often give birth at home at great risk. In some of these communities, traditional midwives support women who would otherwise not have access to healthcare.
The professional midwife, a completely new type of health provider in Bolivia, has the potential to bring skilled maternal health care to women where they live. Committed to increasing women’s and newborns’ access to quality health care, the government recently trained the first class of a its professional midwifery program and sent these graduates to isolated communities, where the need for skilled birth attendants is most urgent.
Midwives Forward will build a strong support network of midwives as they navigate the challenges of working in dense jungle communities with few resources. Community-based midwives from the Bolivian lowlands will gather to share their stories and what they’ve learned on the job, so they can learn new ways to deliver the best care possible. Following these gatherings, midwives will remain connected and continue to learn from each other in their common language through phone-based applications.