The Global Midwifery Twinning Project (GMTP) was a three-year multi-country partnership in the THET Health Partnership Scheme from 2012 to 2015. In this project the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) established twinning relationships with sister professional midwives’ associations in Uganda, Cambodia and Nepal for mutual strengthening and capacity building. Sixty seven volunteer midwives from the UK undertook seventy five placements during the project, working with the host midwifery associations, but also with other key stakeholders and practising midwives to address the ‘three pillars’ of a strong midwifery profession, identified by the International Confederation of Midwives: education, regulation and association.
Key immediate achievements of the project include the development of strategic plans with each partner association, development of educational curricula/tools, leadership development, increased visibility and influence of professional midwives associations and improvements in the quality of midwifery care in participating sites. All participating partner associations went onto develop longer term partnerships with local or international organisations and donors, to increase their membership and to enhance the package of services to those members.
Reciprocal benefits were demonstrated for the participating volunteers, for their sending organisations and for the RCM; these included personal and professional development, deepened engagement of UK midwives with the RCM and increased visibility and influence of the RCM within existing and new networks.
The RCM subsequently won two further HPS grants for a midwifery mentorship programme in Uganda and new scoping work in Malawi. In 2017 the RCM started a new twinning project with the Bangladesh Midwifery Society, funded through UNFPA and has recently completed a 5-year midwife teacher twinning project between the UK and Northern Nigeria, in partnership with HPI and Save the Children.
In 2017, the RCM developed an internal framework to guide its future global work, underpinned by the principles of partnership, twinning and reciprocity. The four elements of the framework aim to ensure excellence in project delivery, capturing learning from global engagement to influence UK midwifery, engaging the RCM members and developing the RCM’s staff. During 2018 the RCM is undertaking in-depth analysis of twinning project data and co-publishing, with partners and members, a suite of papers adding the body of knowledge about midwifery twinning and health partnerships.