Company: Direct Relief
Title: Midwives as First Responders: Maternal and Neonatal Healthcare during Disasters
Moderator: Andrew Schroeder, PhD, MPP: Director of Research & Analysis at Direct Relief; USA
• Vardine Jean-Baptiste: Association d’infirmières sages-femmes d’Haïti. Midwife at UNFPA-HAITI.
• Patience Cooper Tokpah: Liberia Midwives Association; CM, RN, Bsn, FWACN, MPH candidate. Reproductive Health Supervisor, Montserrado County Health Team, Ministry of Health.
• Laxmi Tamang: Midwifery Society of Nepal. RN, MPH, PhD (Sexual and Reproductive Health and Gender-Power relations). Visiting Faculty, National Academy of Medical Science, Bir Hospital Nursing Campus. Manager and a Lead Co-Founding member of APS Birth Centre and Midwifery Society of Nepal. Executive member of Perinatal Society of Nepal
• Jacqui Anderson: Midwife advisor at the New Zealand College of Midwives.
• Corazon L. Paras: Integrated Midwives Association of the Philippines, Inc. (IMAP) RM, BCHS. Deputy Program Manager IMAP-CMSU Follow-on Project IMAP, Inc.
Description: Pregnant women and newborns are among the most vulnerable people during the onset of disaster events. When healthcare systems are disrupted due to flooding, fires, seismic shocks or epidemiological crisis, people who may already be challenged under normal circumstances with access to safe delivery and other essential healthcare often find themselves at risk of being entirely cut off from services. Within this context of crisis and disruption, midwives fill essential gaps in providing emergency access to maternal and neonatal healthcare. Although they are not usually named officially as such, midwives may practically be thought of as first responders within a range of disaster relief efforts. Not only are midwives positioned as skilled professionals to respond to the specific needs of pregnant women and newborns, often they are also deeply embedded in community healthcare structures which form the backbone of local disaster resiliency efforts.
This panel looks at five different experiences of midwives within different geographies and disaster events (Haiti, Liberia, Nepal, New Zealand and Philippines) in order to engage a broad discussion about the needs and the potential for understanding midwives as first responders on the front lines of global crisis.