A team of UK doctors has helped reduce infant and maternal mortality in Iraq following a pioneering project to improve midwifery practices in the war-ravaged country. They have taught consultants and midwives how to deal with medical emergencies that can arise during childbirth without the need for expensive equipment, which they do not have.
The report states:
"Unwittingly, the British team made another impact in Iraq - by changing doctors and consultants' attitudes towards midwives. Mr Mathieson, who is also a senior lecturer in environmental health at Bristol's University of the West of England, which allowed him time off for the programme, said: "Nurses and midwives in Iraq are seen as second class citizens.
A party of Basra doctors currently on a visit to London have said what a huge difference we have made to their work. According to Andrew Mathieson, MOET trip co-ordinator, "They are mainly women and this is a misogynistic society." There were two or three midwives on each of the two courses of 18. The remainder were doctors, two-thirds of whom were women.
"We were teaching midwives the same sort of life-saving techniques as the doctors. Midwives are very experienced and this gave them the capability to support their experience. The doctors had a greater appreciation of what midwives are capable of after they had been on the course.
So we were making in-roads into changing attitudes towards midwives."