The state of midwifery in small island Pacific nations

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Journal Article
Women and Birth, 2017, 30 (3), pp. 193 - 199
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© 2017 Australian College of Midwives Background Strengthening midwifery is a global priority. Recently, global evidence has provided momentum toward developing the midwifery workforce. In 2014, the State of the World's Midwifery 2014 Report explored midwifery services in 73 low to middle income countries. In the South Pacific region, only Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands were included. This means that there is little known on the state of midwifery in the small island countries in the South Pacific. Aim To explore the current situation of the education, regulation and association of midwives in 12 small island nations of the South Pacific and determine the gaps in these areas. Methods A descriptive study was undertaken. Data were collected through a survey completed by key representatives (usually the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer) from each of the 12 countries. Ethical approval was received from the relevant Human Research Ethics Committee. Findings Many of the countries had few midwives, in some instances, only two midwives for the whole country. Midwifery education programs included post-graduate diploma, certificates and bachelor degrees. Midwives were required to be registered nurses in all countries. Regulation and licensing also varied – most countries did not have a separate licensing system for midwives. Only three countries have a specific professional association for midwives. Conclusion The variation and the small number of midwives poses challenges for workforce planning. Consideration could be given to developing regional standards and potentially a shared curriculum framework. Ongoing collaboration and networking between countries is a critical part of future developments.
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