Current Project - Morocco 2016

Berber mother and daughter.   Atlas Mountains, Morocco.                         Photographer:  Victor Englebert

Berber mother and daughter. 

Atlas Mountains, Morocco.                       

Photographer:  Victor Englebert

In the Summer of 2016, Midwife to Midwife will travel to the Atlas Mountains region of Morocco with a team consisting of a midwife, a pediatrician and a childbirth educator working in cooperation with an elder midwife, community members and local hospital staff.  Their focus will be to help with traditional midwifery education, prenatal education, andcreating better relationships between traditional midwives and local hospitals.

Midwife to Midwife was created in response to the desires of the local midwives in the Atlas Mountains region of Morocco.  Although the national government is working to improve the country's maternity system, many women and babies are still dying.  While the maternal mortality rate for urban women is 110 per 100,000, in the mountains it is more than double that number at 227 per 100,000.   The health statistics for Morocco are radically different for the people in the mountains, and there are few studies looking only at rates of education and health for the mountain people.  The highest rates of death occur in the Berber people of the Atlas mountains, where people live rural isolated lives. 

National statistics state that only 40% of births are attended by skilled health personnel.  In 2015 NouSol conducted a small study of the Belli Medi region and found that 80% of births there are attended at home by self-trained midwives or a family relative.  NouSol and Midwife to Midwife also found an extremely high rate of physical and mental disabilities in the region with approximately 70% of the people having some type of disability.  For the last three years, NouSol has been in the region addressing these issues by providing support services, education and looking at the causes of these disabilities.  After interviewing the midwives, it became apparent that some of the traditional practices could be compounding the disabilities suffered by children in the region.  These midwives have no access to education or information about pregnancy and childbirth.  They are all self-trained and most are illiterate, but like all midwives worldwide, the Atlas mountain midwives were open and eager to meet others and learn more about their profession.  They are also clear that they want to protect their culture and traditions. 

While Morocco has public hospitals, many people in the mountains live too far away to access them.  Berber Women have also expressed concern that the hospital staff are not local to the region, do not speak their language and are often young and inexperienced.  As a result, many interactions in the hospital are fraught with miscommunication and misunderstanding.  In keeping with the WHO report, which shows that the integration of traditional medicine and modern medicine in rural communities has the best health outcomes, Midwife to Midwife is working to bridge the gap between the two approaches in the region.

Midwife to Midwife knows that simply teaching skills will not create the long term change the midwives are seeking.  Midwife to Midwife will provide the local midwives with the necessary tools for better prenatal care and monitoring of mothers and babies, offer childbirth education and nutrition classes to mothers and families in the communities, and create bridges between the local midwives and the hospitals for improved understanding between the two groups, making transports easier if needed. These programs will remain flexible, changing as needed to meet the specific needs of each situation and the needs of the community midwives.  In order to support the long term goals of NouSol, Midwife to Midwife will return yearly to continue the work in the communities in the region as the Atlas midwives lead the way.