Midwifery conference discusses future of global childbirth healthcare


An international conference exploring the challenges facing maternal and newborn health worldwide has taken place at Bournemouth University.

The conference, organised by Bournemouth University (BU), looked at the international health issues facing those giving birth and their newborn babies and aims to influence the global agenda for the next 15 years.

Professor in Midwifery at BU Vanora Hundley, who has helped to organise the conference, said: “Midwifery should be the backbone of universal access to reproductive health services.”

The conference, called Midwifery and the post MDG Agenda, comes as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by the United Nations end in 2015.

Two of these MDGs focused on reducing child mortality and improving maternal health, and the conference will look at what has been achieved so far, and what still needs to be done.

Dr Zoe Sheppard, from BU’s Clinical Research Unit, said: “The MDGs helped focus attention on reproductive health and rights over the past 14 years.

“Now we need make sure we set challenging but achievable targets for the next 15 years.”

Delegates at the conference were encouraged by speakers to promote access to pregnancy- and birth-related healthcare for all women worldwide, regardless of economic situation or country of birth.

The conference also included a poster exhibition hall that displayed the latest research taking place in the field of midwifery. Posters included information on midwifery in poorer countries, such at Sheetal Sharma’s (pictured) poster on midwifery in Nepal.

Speakers at the one-day conference included Dr Neil Squires, from the Department for International Development (DFID), and Brigid McConville from the White Ribbon Alliance, a non-profit organisation which campaigns for safe birth worldwide.

BU donates medical equipment to charity for use in South Sudan

Medical equipment previously used by staff and students at Bournemouth University has been donated to a local charity, to help healthcare professionals in South Sudan.

The resuscitation mannequins and baby-weighing scales have been given to Poole Africa Link – a charity which assists Southern Sudanese healthcare professionals in developing their skills and self-sufficiency.

South Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world, with low access to healthcare provision and high rates of maternal and child mortality.

The medical equipment donated by BU’s School of Health and Social Care has been taken to Wau Hospital in South Sudan, where it will be used to assist with training and patient care.

Hilary Fenton-Harris, Poole Africa Link Coordinator, said: “Receiving good-quality needed kit is a great encouragement to the people in Wau who work under conditions that it’s difficult to comprehend for most of us used to UK health care.

“Practising resuscitation scenarios plays an important part of the training we give in Wau both at the hospital and the training schools.

“The resuscitation mannequins given by the university were well received by both schools of nursing in Wau by the students and the nuns who teach them.”

She added that the baby weighing scales donated by BU had also made a big difference to clinics and care in the region.

“The baby weighing scales were received with great excitement by the community midwives who had no means of weighing babies prior to this,” Hilary said.

“We also gave some to a local malnutrition clinic and the paediatric and labour wards at the hospital. They will make a real difference to the care they can give.”

Events Management students from BU are also planning to support the charity, by holding a black tie fundraiser. It will take place at the Haven Hotel in Sandbanks, on March 29.

Academics to look at access to maternity services in Nepal with Fellowship grant


A team from Bournemouth University will look at why women in Nepal don’t use health services when giving birth, after receiving the first International Fellowship for Midwives.

The Fellowship is awarded by the charity Wellbeing of Women, in association with the Royal College of Midwives, for research into maternity services and women’s health from an international perspective.

The team from BU will use the £20,000 Fellowship grant to look at the real and perceived barriers to women in Nepal giving birth within a health facility with a skilled birth attendant.

“There is evidence that access to skilled birth attendant is likely to lead to a better outcome for the mother and baby,” said Lesley Milne, senior lecturer in Midwifery at Bournemouth University, who will lead the project.

“If they don’t, it is more likely to end in a maternal mortality, and we are trying to determine why women in Nepal don’t access health services.”

Lesley will be supported by Vanora Hundley, Professor in Midwifery at BU, Edwin van Teijlingen, Professor of Reproductive Health Research at BU, and Dr Padam Simkhada, from the University of Sheffield.

The year-long project will start on April 1 and the money received as part of the Fellowship will enable Lesley to go to Nepal for three weeks in September to undertake the research.

She said: “This would not be possible if we had not been awarded this money.

“It’s fantastic to have received this grant and we are really pleased about it.”

She added: “There is an under-utilisation of health services in Nepal. It is about getting women to use the services available and trying to find out why many of them currently don’t.

“I will be going out to Nepal to observe and also undertake some interviews of health personnel of both a rural hospital and a hospital in Kathmandu, to try to see what they think is preventing women from accessing services.”

Lesley added that possible reasons for women not accessing health services could include having to travel a long way, having had poor previous experiences or their cultural beliefs.

Bournemouth University has been building links with Nepal across a number of areas and academic schools, including the School of Health and Social Care, and both Lesley and fellow researcher Professor Edwin van Teijlingen have experience in the surrounding area.

Lesley said that she hoped the research could be a springboard for future study.

“I hope that we may have a great insight into why women aren’t accessing services and hopefully will be able to address that in the future,” she said.