Women Leading and Influencing (WLI) participant and midwife Maryanne Maga is prepared and inspired to apply research to practice and further develop maternity services in Papua New Guinea (PNG) after taking part in four-day international midwifery conference.
Through her participation in WLI's Women's Developmental Leadership Program, Maryanne travelled to Indonesia to join the 33rd International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) Triennial Congress where she made connections with and learned implementing strategies from midwives working in similar contexts.
Passionate about using evidence-based practice to reduce PNG’s Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), Maryanne says the experience “not only supported the professional development of the midwives but also gathered us together to support, build relationships, cultivate ideas, and identify pathways for progress”.
The 33rd ICM Triennial Congress was held at Nusa Dua, Bali, from 11 to the 14 June 2023 with the theme “from evidence to reality”, which focused on implementing evidence in practice.
Hosted by ICM, an accredited non-government organisation representing midwives worldwide, the conference consisted of presentations, group activities and a transfer of practical skills from midwifery researchers and stakeholders to care providers.
Each day, Maryanne was able to connect with and learn from midwives and researchers sharing similar interests and facing similar challenges in their professions and regions.
These shared challenges included limited and inconsistent models of care for pregnant women, which, if adapted and tailored well, can contribute to the reduction of maternal mortality.
According to Maryanne, watching other midwives present the strategies they use to implement evidence into their practice “really amazed" and “challenged” her way of thinking and doing – especially when learning from midwives in countries experiencing severe hardship.
She explains, “A midwife from Ukraine shared her story of how she had to help women deliver their babies in an underground bomb shelter with no water or electricity, while another told her story of how she used women’s and midwives’ voices to bring aid, funding, and recognition to her community.
"My country has no war or famine, but the women still have their babies without the basic rights to a health care provider and services.”
While challenges are different in PNG, the country’s MMR is the highest in the Western Pacific region and among the highest in the world; accounting for 171 maternal deaths per 100 000 live births and 20 neonatal deaths per 1000 live births (according to the PNG Demographic and Health Survey (2021)).
“Evidence has clearly stated that it is not the services that contribute to the high MMR, but the quality of the care provided,” Maryanne explains.
As a nursing manager and trainer serving in the rural Provincial Hospital in Gulf Province, Maryanne experiences first-hand the challenges of a disjointed maternity care system.
While models of care are offered in PNG, they are, “fragmented within maternity services provided by different care givers … so, women do not get satisfaction and the care is not woman-centred," Maryanne says.
Women’s Developmental Leadership Program participants like Maryanne and alumni have the opportunity to access tailored professional development and internship opportunities, including supported attendance at conferences, to build leadership and professional skills and forge lasting partnerships and networks to support them into the future. Participants and alumni apply to access professional development opportunities through the WLI Leaders Hub.