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Groundbreaking conference on action to reduce mortality in Black women and babies

9 Jul 2019

Midwife Elsie Gayle is leading a small team in hosting a groundbreaking one day conference for international research and knowledge exchange on maternal and perinatal mortality.  The conference has been supported by an Iolanthe/RCM Jean Davies Award and will be held on 23 September 2019 at the Open University in London, Camden.

Elsie's commitment to the issues to be examined in the conference arises from her own personal and professional experience of maternity care as a woman of African descent. 

In 2017 UK Maternal mortality was 8.76 deaths per 100, 000 (MBRRACE-UK, 2017). While there had been little or no change in overall maternal mortality in the UK, between 2010-12 and 2013-15; and 2014 -16, these figures hides stark differences in specific mortality rates. In Black women, maternity mortality has risen between 2010-12 and 2013-15. The relative risk of maternal death amongst Black women was 3.03 times greater than for white women in 2010-12 and rose to 4.28 times greater in 2013-15 (MBRRACE-UK, 2017).

Further to this there has yet been another rise in Black mothers' mortality. They are now 5 times more likely to die than their white counterparts during the childbearing year;  40 deaths /100,00 births as compared with white mothers who are at 8/100,00 and asian mothers at 15/100,000 births (MBRRACE, 2018).

 Urgent action is needed to reduce maternal mortality in Black women in the UK.

The detriment extends to Black babies, who according to ONS data, have a 121% increased risk for stillbirth and are 50% more likely to suffer neonatal death compared to white babies (ONS 2016).

Keynote conference speakers are Professor Dorothy Roberts JD and Midwife Jenny Joseph.

pregnant black woman lying down by Dexter Chatuluka via Unsplash​​

Both speakers are leading on discrete works in the USA. They have, individually, focussed on a deep understanding of the complex issues and on creating robust and sustainable models of maternity care. Where practised, their works have supported significant and insightful improvements to the lives of Black mothers and their babies in the USA.

The upcoming conference seeks to:

  • Learn from international approaches
  • Examine how midwifery practice can be improved through organisations like co-applicants, Mimosa Midwives.
  • Enable the voices and experiences of Black women service users to be heard.
  • Begin the work of realising and embedding the factors which will cause a step change in maternity outcomes for Black mothers and babies.

Target Audience:

Midwives; researchers involved in research on perinatal mortality; Black women users of maternity services and their families; midwifery lecturers; policymakers; maternity service managers; maternity service planners; health service commissioners; health and social care professionals

UPDATE: The conference had already happened. See the livestream here:

Morning session

Afternoon session

For more information about the conference and the resulting actions, see the Midwifery Conversations website