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RCOG statement on new Lancet series on midwifery care globally

News 23 June 2014

The Lancet Series, produced by an international group of academics, clinicians, professional midwives, policymakers and advocates for women and children, is the largest examination of midwifery ever conducted.

The Series includes four papers looking at midwifery services and focuses on a new framework for maternal and newborn care, estimates of the effects of increased midwifery care, case studies of countries that have improved their maternal and newborn health and priority research areas to improve quality of care.

The first paper looks at a new framework for maternal and newborn care which describes the characteristics of care that women, newborn infants, and families need from pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy and birth, and beyond. The framework describes the care and services that childbearing women and newborn infants need in all settings including education and information, screening and care planning, promotion of normal processes, first line management of complications and medical obstetric neonatal services.

The second paper looks at the estimated deaths averted if midwifery was scaled up in countries across the world. The third paper documents the experience of low-income and middle-income countries that deployed midwives as one of the core constituents of their strategy to improve maternal and newborn health. In addition the fourth paper proposes priority research areas and outlines how national investment in midwives and in their work environment, education, regulation, and management can improve quality of care.

Dr David Richmond, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said:

“We welcome this Series looking at the importance of midwifery services and its emphasis on improving the care of women and their babies.

“The Series acknowledges the importance of multidisciplinary team-working to identify those women who will develop complications, either in pregnancy or in labour, and who may need specialist care.

“Midwives around the world play an important role in providing safe care for pregnant women and newborns. However, this Series illustrates that globally much more needs to be done to improve this and how appropriately trained midwives ready to serve their communities provides an excellent return on investment.

“We launched our Global Health five-year strategy in 2013 which outlines our commitment to improving women’s health and the health of babies. The strategy focuses on the College’s key strengths in standard setting, education and training, setting objectives and outcome measures to ensure that investment in global health initiatives will have a lasting impact on women’s health in the countries most in need.

“Many of our members volunteer abroad alongside their midwife colleagues to train more local healthcare professionals to deliver better care through multidisciplinary working and prompt identification and management of problems.

“In the UK we have known for some time that both more midwives and consultants are needed to deal with the increased pressures on maternity services. As a College we are committed to reducing the intrapartum stillbirth rate and are launching a new research project in the autumn to address this.”


To view the full Lancet Series on midwifery, please click here.