Hilda Reyes | October 2015
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Presentation at the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference, October 20, 2015

The current federal administration began in December of 2012 and will end in the fall of 2018. The Ministry of Health’s National Center for Gender Equity and Reproductive Health has developed an initiative for the next three years that seeks to rebuild professional midwifery in the country and make significant contributions toward this end before the administration’s end. The Center will encourage Obstetric and Perinatal Nurses to provide midwifery services within the public health system. It will collaborate with the National University system’s School of Obstetric Nursing to build a new program to engage newly graduated students in rural areas of the country to do their one-year compulsory social services. It intends to identify and engage a group of some 90 recent graduates in a new program that will insert them into the health system at the primary and secondary levels through one-year social service internships. These students, along with other more seasoned nurse midwives who will be hired to serve as midwives, will eventually serve as a liaison between communities, traditional and technical midwives, and health providers in clinics and hospitals, namely doctors, gynecologists-obstetricians and nurses. The program seeks to break down barriers among these key health providers by deploying a new cadre of nurse midwives and building trust and teamwork in a hierarchical system riddled with misunderstandings and even skepticism about the quality of care that can be provided by midwives. The program builds from experiences learned recently in a UNFPA-ICM (International Confederation of Midwives) convening in Costa Rica, where participants learned about midwifery forces in the Latin American region. The Center’s participation in this panel will be to share with the public this new program and how it intends to roll out, what impact it seeks, and the challenges it may face as it develops.