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ICM 29TH Triennial Congress
Durban South Africa 19-23rd June 2011
By Dianne Garland

A stunning setting in South Africa on the sun glazed beaches of Durban was the wonderful location for ICM this year. The triennial congress, hosted by the South African midwives, brought together about 3,000 midwives from 94 countries.

The main theme was “Midwives tackling the Big 5 globally”. There were subtle themes and messages throughout the conference. One very memorable for me was when Gandhi was quoted “ BE – the change you want to see in the world”. As midwives we are in a unique position to make changes both large and small and of course relevant to our own country and sphere of practice.

Congress always attracts scientific papers from midwives undertaking further study and research, but as we were in a developing country a number of project papers from midwives working in demanding situations appeared more relevant.

I heard from midwives working in countries where maternal mortality is as high as 1:10 (Chad) and 600:100, 000 (Bolivia), as a comparison in the UK it is 261:100,000.

Key speakers started the days with a refreshing insight into global midwifery and the challenges ahead in the next triennial. Maternal mortality is never far from the agenda, but sessions were present on all aspects of health care relevant to mothers and babies. Workshops brought together midwives looking to establish international links both at a clinical and educational level.

At the exhibition I am glad to say that my new Palgrave book “Revisiting Waterbirth: An Attitude to Care” was for sale, and having signed several copies I was able to link with fellow “waterbirthers”.

The congress is not all work and no play – there were plenty of interactive sessions, break out sessions, lunch and tea breaks to meet and greet colleagues, new and old. ‘Africa night’ gave us the opportunity to dance, sing and enjoy a traditional African meal…and socialize till late.

The next ICM is Prague 2014 so I would encourage all midwives to get saving and interact with international colleagues in that beautiful city.


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