After the initial reaction to the news that the RCM Global Midwifery Twinning Project had been given the Multi-Country Partnership Scheme award, the reality of the massive undertaking hit us.
This project is funded through the Health Partnership Scheme, which is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) for the benefit of the UK and partner country health sectors, and is managed by the Tropical Health Education Trust (THET).
The overall goal of the project is to strengthen midwifery associations in three countries – Uganda, Cambodia and Nepal – using the twinning concept. These three countries were selected because they have high maternal and perinatal mortality rates. The journey started by establishing twinning relationships between the four UK countries and relationships will be complemented by pairing 72 individual UK midwife volunteers with midwives in project countries, to stimulate the potential and scope of midwifery associations in raising the standards of midwifery education and practice.
The RCM is committed to the paired associations and to paired midwives progressing the project objectives as equal partners, with the underpinning principles of mutual benefit, dignity, respect and ownership.
Progress so far
One of the key objectives was to embed the twinning concept between the UK and in-country partners. This was facilitated through a face-to-face workshop involving the country delegates, which was hosted in central London from 18th-22nd June 2012.
Delegates at the workshop examined the role of midwifery associations and the status and autonomy of midwives in each of the countries. This discussion led to an in-depth exploration of the key goals of the project, and the scope and potential of the associations to mobilise all midwives in individual countries to become the voice of midwifery and develop strategies to campaign for the regulation and education of midwives to improve the quality of maternity care. This discussion energised the delegates into taking ownership of the project.
In addition to the partners building relationships and developing joint strategic plans, the delegates had time to enjoy a reception hosted by Her Excellency Joan Rwabyomere. The reception (attended by approximately 40 guests including Lord Crisp) helped to raise the profile and commitment to the RCM project designed to strengthen midwifery associations and midwifery practice.
On the final day of the workshop the delegates had a moment of reflection and developed a symbol to reinforce the principles and philosophy underpinning the RCM Global Midwifery Twinning Project. The symbol represents the fundamental values of the mutual benefit of giving and receiving.
We hope to use this symbol to remind us not to subscribe to old stereotypes of “we know best, we can give” and to replace it with “what can we learn together and share with each other”.
Although the initial start to the project and the UK workshop has been evaluated very successfully, the RCM team has experienced a number of challenges. It has been a steep learning curve, in planning and implementing the project activities, dealing with the administration relating to the project and maintaining clear communication with all the twin partners.
The next stage of the project will focus on the volunteers’ journey from recruitment to return from overseas placement. The management of the volunteers’ journey requires expertise, skill and foresight to anticipate issues that may affect the volunteer experience and their effectiveness in assisting to deliver project outputs.
The RCM recognises the midwives’ contribution to global health and their role in reducing maternal and perinatal mortality. The Global Midwifery Twinning Project gives the midwives in the paired countries the opportunity to focus on the role of midwife, not only within the narrow paradigm of clinical practice, but also in public health, advocacy for women and children and the opportunity to raise public awareness of the benefits of improving standards and the quality of maternity service provision.
Contributor & photo credit: Sue Jacob, RCM, Student Services Advisor