Virtual Event Series

Campaigners say ‘decolonise the curriculum’ to help solve UK maternity inequalities

The Independent’s health correspondent Shaun Lintern hosted an exclusive virtual panel event discussing maternity inequalities in the UK

Thursday 18 November 2021 12:22
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The increased risk of black and minority ethnic women dying during pregnancy needs to be seen as a whole system problem and not limited to just maternity departments, according to experts on an exclusive panel (scroll down to watch the full recording) hosted by The Independent.

Professor Marian Knight, from Oxford University told the virtual event on Wednesday night that the health service needed to change its approach to caring for ethnic minority women in a wider context.

Campaigners Tinuke Awe and Clotilde Rebecca Abe, from the Fivexmore campaign, called for changes to the way midwives were trained and demanded it was time to “decolonise the curriculum” so it recognised the physiological differences between some ethnic minority women and white women.

Dr Mary Ross-Davie, from the Royal College of Midwives, said work was underway to ensure the voices of black women and other minorities were represented in its work and it was examining how it could deliver better training to midwives.

The data on maternity deaths in the UK show black women are four times more likely to die during pregnancy in the UK than white women. For Asian women, they are twice as likely to die.

To watch the event in full view the video below

The UK's maternity inequalities examined

Prof Knight said the single biggest cause of death in all pregnant women was still heart disease and she said it was important doctors and midwives did not dismiss symptoms raised by pregnant women because of the pregnancy.

Clotilde Rebecca Abe urged women to advocate for themselves and not to accept being ignored. The Fivexmore campaign has advice on their website for women on questions to ask and how to make sure they are getting properly cared for.

In addition she urged women to find someone who can advocate for them when they are not able to do it themselves.

Tinuke Awe stressed the problems in maternity were not about racism, although that may play a part in some cases, as poor experiences were reported by women experiencing care from black midwives too. She said it was clearly the way midwives were being trained and how they were working that was key to making improvements.

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