Put on Your Walking Shoes: Walk for Maternal Health on May 5

By Christine Cupaiuolo — May 3, 2011

The International Confederation of Midwives is asking member associations, midwives and their supporters to take to the streets on May 5 — International Day of the Midwife — to raise the profile of maternal mortality and access to midwifery care before, during and after childbirth.

From the ICM: “Over 340,000 women die each year, with millions more suffering infection and disability as a result of preventable maternal causes. The ICM, alongside UN agencies, WHO and a range of other international partners, is committed to addressing maternal mortality and morbidity through greater access to essential midwifery care worldwide, particularly in developing countries where 90% of maternal deaths occur.”

The walk is the first stage of the Road to Durban, where midwives from around the world will gather at the ICM Triennial Congress in South Africa (June 19-23). A new publication, “The State of the World Midwifery Report,” will be released during the gathering. It will provide new information and data gathered from 60 countries in all regions of the world, to:

• examine the number and distribution of health professionals involved in the delivery of midwifery services;

• explore emerging issues related to education, regulation, professional associations, policies and external aid;

• analyse global issues regarding health personnel with midwifery skills, most of whom are women, and the constraints and challenges that they face in their lives and work;

• call for accelerating investments for scaling up midwifery services, as well as “skilling up” the respective providers.

Close to OBOS headquarters, the Massachusetts affiliate of the American College of Nurse-Midwives is sponsoring a 5K walk in Cambridge (pdf). The walk will begin between 6 and 6:30 p.m. at the Cambridge Boat Club at 2 Gerrys Landing Road. The event is free, but onsite registration is required.

Other walks from West Virginia to Montana are listed here. If you’re involved in a walk in your community, feel free to leave a comment with the details.

For information on maternal health in the United States, see Amnesty International’s 2010 report “Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA.” A one-year update was released earlier this spring (both are pdf’s). Amnesty has more information available online.

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