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Putting Wales at the forefront of midwifery advancement

5 April 2017

Vaughan Gething at Midwifery collaborating centre launch

Cardiff University’s School of Healthcare Sciences is putting Wales at the forefront of midwifery advancement with the launch of the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Midwifery Development.

Launched at an event attended by Health Secretary Vaughan Gething and Professor James Buchan, Senior Advisor for Human Resources for Health at WHO Europe, the new centre is the only collaborating centre focusing solely on midwifery in the WHO European region and one of only two such collaborating centres in the world.

Speaking at the event, Professor Colin Riordan, Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University, said: “We are honoured that the World Health Organisation has designated our School of Healthcare Sciences a collaborating centre for midwifery development...”

“Over the years we have made significant contributions to the field of midwifery education and research and we look forward to working with WHO to improve this vital area of healthcare across Europe.”

Professor Colin Riordan President and Vice-Chancellor, Cardiff University

On the occasion of the launch, Professor James Buchan from the World Health Organization commented, “We are pleased to welcome the School of Healthcare Sciences at Cardiff University to the network of WHO collaborating centres for nursing and midwifery...”

“As a WHO collaborating centre, the School will generate evidence and good practices in the field of midwifery education and practice, and we look forward to working together to provide technical support to WHO Member States.”

Professor James Buchan World Health Organization

Midwifery across Europe varies widely in terms of educational preparation, professional regulation, and scope of practice. The Cardiff University Midwifery Collaborating Centre will play an important role in addressing those inequities by providing WHO with technical advice and consultancy, as well as generating and disseminating evidence. It will contribute to scaling up and transforming midwifery education across the WHO European region, building on the legacy of the Royal College of Midwives, which was a WHO Collaborating Centre for over 20 years.

Professor Billie Hunter and Professor James Buchan at Collaborating Centre for Midwifery Development launch

Professor Billie Hunter from Cardiff University’s School of Healthcare Sciences has been appointed Director of the new collaborating centre. She said: “Every year over 300,000 women die because of pregnancy related conditions, and 90% of these deaths are preventable. We know that quality midwifery can avert more than four in five maternal deaths, but in many countries midwives are not well trained or supported in practice...”

“In the Collaborating Centre, we will support WHO to strengthen midwifery education and practice across the 53 member states of the WHO European region, in order to improve the quality of care for mothers and babies.”

Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport Vaughan Gething said: “It is a real pleasure to celebrate the launch of the WHO’s Collaborating Centre which marks an important milestone in the development of Cardiff University as an international centre of excellence for midwifery education and practice.

“I am delighted to celebrate putting Wales on the map in terms of recognition for the excellence in midwifery care offered within the country. I know today is the result of a culmination of hard work and engagement both nationally and internationally, and I congratulate all who have made this happen.”

Vaughan Gething speaking at launch collaborating centre for Midwifery

Midwifery has been identified by WHO in numerous policies as the key to improving maternal and infant health globally. It's estimated that 18m more midwives and nurses will be needed globally, especially in low-income countries, to ensure effective provision for the world's population by 2030.

The new collaborating centre has expertise in a wide range of midwifery education, research and practice and a work plan has been developed which will help support WHO policies. The key areas of focus include:

  • helping WHO to map midwifery education across Europe, in order to monitor progress
  • developing an evidence-based resource for countries wanting to develop or strengthen a midwifery programme
  • providing expert advice to countries about midwifery education and curriculum development (for example, in November 2015 the School of Healthcare Sciences visited Uzbekistan at the request of the Uzbek government)

WHO works alongside various governments and other partners to safeguard the highest attainable level of health for all people. It has been active for nearly 70 years following its formation in 1948 and today has offices in over 150 countries. The University joins over 700 collaborating centres in 80 countries supporting WHO programmes.

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