A taste of the global maternal and neonatal health community at the IMNHC in Cape Town

Report by Nadege Sandrine Uwamahoro, Maternal Waiting Home Research Co-ordinator

We are not just part of a moment; we are part of a movement. From left to right: Horacio, Argentina, Nadege, Ruta, and Tanda.

This month, five members of the Mozambique-Canada Maternal Health project — Argentina Ezequiel Munguambe, Ruta dos Santos José Massunguine, Nadege Sandrine Uwamahoro, Horácio Mandevo Chissaque, and António Tanda — attended the inaugural International Maternal and Neonatal Health Conference (IMNHC) in Cape Town. The theme of the five-day conference was ‘Together 2023’.

We were struck by the high number of people — over 1500 researchers, implementers, and industry leaders — attending the conference. Attending the conference gave team members a sense of belonging to a global community and movement, with a shared goal of ending maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. It was important to be reminded that other countries are facing similar poverty-related challenges as in Mozambique. Even countries that many Mozambicans travel to for specialized and high-quality treatment. like India and Nigeria, have rural communities that lack access to quality maternal health services.

Argentina (left) and Ruta (right)showing the result of their group work during a session on respectful maternal care.

Live poster sessions and official national delegation booths and symposia were designed to facilitate small group discussion, and the exhibition hall was especially useful for networking and seeing what some national, regional, and international organizations are doing to improve maternal and new-born survival and prevent stillbirths in the countries where they work. We all went to sessions that closely reflected our own areas, but we were also able to explore topics beyond them.

It was encouraging to see that our project’s approach to integrating community engagement, health system strengthening, and intervention research, is well aligned with current evidence and global recommendations. However, it was also clear that as a global community, we need to do more, if we are to achieve maternal and neonatal health-related sustainable development goals. We need to lead with effectiveness, share implementation strategies, and nurture collaboration and innovation. As the Mozambique-Canada maternal health project has a lot to share with the global community, we hope to present our work at the next conference in 2025.

A special session on Mozambique and the country symposia for Mozambique provided an opportunity for the team members to network with individuals in the Mozambican official national delegation.