By: 21 May 2020
University duo honoured for work to help develop midwifery services in India

Two midwifery staff members at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) have scooped a national award in recognition of their pioneering work to help develop and strengthen midwifery services in India.

Elizabeth Gomez and Professor Soo Downe (pictured, left and right), who are both members of UCLan’s School of Community Health and Midwifery, have won the Royal College of Midwives Johnson’s award for Excellence in Midwifery Education, Learning and Research.

This follows ground breaking work undertaken by both Gomez, Downe and the wider UCLan midwifery team to help further improve professional midwifery services available to mothers in India.

Through online teaching and close partnership working with the Fernandez Hospitals Foundation in Hyderabad in India, UCLan has been instrumental in setting up a new education programme for professional midwives in the country.

The project is part of India’s efforts to establish midwifery as a recognised and regulated profession. This will help improve pregnancy care and support the country’s drive to reduce pregnancy related death rates of mothers and babies.

In India, nearly 32,000 women a year lose their lives through the pregnancy and birth process. In addition, 590,000 new-born babies are estimated to die in the first month of life (SRS 2014-2016).

UCLan initially developed a curriculum for the International Midwifery Educators (IMEs) who went out to India in September 2019. The IMEs, supported by UCLan and the team at Fernandez, are now creating an International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) and India Nursing Council (INC) compliant training programme for midwifery educators across the country. This, it is hoped, will lead to an increase in the number of professional midwives supporting mothers in India.

Gomez said: “We are honoured and thrilled to have won this award. We are privileged to work with an amazing team at the Fernandez Foundation and our dedicated International Midwifery Educators trained at UCLan.”

“Together the team are committed to ensuring that India nurses/midwives are trained as educators of the highest calibre, ensuring respectful, compassionate care is embedded into all they teach for the benefit of women, babies and families across India.”

Downe added “We are delighted that all the hard work being undertaken by the whole team, including UCLan, the Fernandez Foundation in India and the IMEs, has been recognised by this very exciting award.”

“We are now looking forward to supporting the midwifery education programme in India, as it flourishes and grows over the next few years.”

Gill Walton, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said:  “Too many mothers and babies across the world are dying needlessly for want of the right care and midwives are key to solving this. They save lives and they make a big difference to the health of mothers and babies and how well they do in pregnancy and beyond.”

“That is why Soo and Elizabeth’s project is so important. It underpins the RCM’s commitment to support midwifery globally and they are worthy winners of this award.”