Health authorities, universities, and NGO representatives at the inauguration of the state forum

On February 18, 2011, the Committee for Safe Motherhood and Women’s Health in Guerrero [Comité por una Maternidad Segura y la Salud de las Mujeres en Guerrero] organized a state forum on actions that reduce maternal mortality.

Two different modalities of midwife training were the focus of presentations at the meeting. Government health officials talked the mainstream model, based on biomedical retraining of traditional midwives. The alternative model, as developed within our Safe Birth in Cultural Safety study, promotes apprenticeship led by elderly midwives from indigenous communities. Participants in the forum agreed that both models should respect traditional knowledge and promote links between these traditions and biomedical knowledge in traditional midwife practice.

Researchers from the Safe Birth in Cultural Safety pilot study contributed to the forum with a magisterial conference on intercultural health care and five presentations with the following titles: Suggestions for contributing to the reduction of maternal mortality in Guerrero; Attention to maternal health in indigenous communities; Social representations of pregnancy and postpartum illnesses of Nancue Ñomndaa women; Training traditional midwives; and Delivery complications for births attended in the home and in the hospital in the municipalities of Xochis and Tlacos, Guerrero.

Other presentations addressed challenges in the reduction of maternal mortality, strategies for the prevention of maternal mortality, and innovative actions for attending to deliveries. Participants agreed that persistent cultural barriers hinder communication between government health services and rural indigenous populations in Guerrero. There was consensus on the need to foster effective and sustained community participation to improve maternal and newborn health across the state.

Participating at the forum came from four government offices, including the Guerrero State Health Secretariat with 30 representatives from the different regions in the state. Eight non-governmental organizations, seven educations institutions and a representative from the local press also contributed to and attended the forum.


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