Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Virtual International Day of the Midwife and resource-poor countries

One of the aims of the Virtual International Day of the Midwife has always been to provide professional development opportunities to midwives who cannot access face-to-face CPD, and especially cannot get to the tri-yearly International Congress of Midwives. In particular, we have been keen to share with our midwifery sisters in resource-poor countries.

We are very mindful that using online technologies is a contradiction in terms, being that midwives who are resource-poor are unlikely to be able to access the internet, so they can join this conference. However, we have always posted the recordings, so they can be accessed in an ongoing manner. We know this isn't perfect by a long chalk, but we have tried to do the best we can.

But is "doing the best we can" actually of no use at all? In fact, are we being arrogant and culturally incompetent with the whole concept of the VIDM?

What we're doing so far
This year I have discovered contact details for the member associations of the International Confederation of Midwives, and emailed them information about the VIDM 2012. This has attracted a few speakers and enquires from midwives in Africa. I have had a few emails from people who speak French and Spanish, and I use Google Translate (or another person) to communicate with them. I have tried to invite Chinese-speaking midwives to present, as well as other non-English speaking midwives - we are very keen to have non-English session. But we haven't managed to make this happen this year.

So I have been congratulating myself with how well we're doing. But the reality is...we're only reaching midwives in resource-rich countries. More to the point....we have no midwives on our committee who come from resource-poor countries, so they have no involvement in the planning of the conference. Which means I do not even know if the topics we are providing has any relevance to midwives in resource-poor countries.

Change of model?
What I am wondering is whether we need to take a whole new approach? Rather than providing an event using a top-down model of development and application, we should turn our attention to contacting midwifery associations in resource-poor countries and offering our services to mentor, facilitate and work along side midwives as they develop their own online conferences or CPD events/resources. Or it may be that they say online events, e-learning etc are just not relevant to them.

I have no idea how practical this is as an idea. What do you think? How do you think we can support colleagues in resource-poor countries using online tools and methodologies? Should it even be something we think about? What do you feel are the issues, and how can they be approached?

Image: 'Ethiopia'


Anita Hamilton said...

Sarah, we have had similar discussions in OT4OT... Shall we join forces?
Cheers, Anita

Sarah Stewart said... a word :)

Joy Johnston said...

Thanks Sarah and all your team and presenters for a very good webinar.

Leigh Blackall said...

I think Illich's 1968 talk about the Peace Corps' work is relavent here:

But to continue, I wonder if their are local talk back radio stations you could connect with. Language is a barrier of course, but not everywhere.. South Africa, India, and other ereas colonised by the English for example. They might air your recordings, and provide you with talk back recordings to add into your online archive.

Gloria Lemay said...

Hi Sarah, thanks for this blog post. Will send to my friend, Natalie, who heads up Shanti Uganda, a birth center project in Uganda. I was so impressed with the diversity in this year's VIDM. The presentation about the Grand Midwives of the U.S.A. by Ayesha Curry Ibrahim, Claudia Booker and Jenny Joseph is a precious documentation of a part of history that has shaped the modern American experience. Over the next few weeks, I'll be promoting the recording of that far and wide.

I'm with you in wondering if my education efforts are just tokenism to the elite or whether, somehow, a difference is being made. Thanks for this reminder to look deeper and not just remain in my comfort zone. Thanks again, also, for all the contributions you and your generosity of education have made in my life.

Sarah Stewart said...

@Leigh Thanks for the ideas and the reference...the reference in particular will feed nicely into my EdD thinking.

@Gloria Keep in and I are doing very similar work...I'm always very interested in hearing your reflections...they feed into my own work :)