Women’s Day 2016, was commemorated in a distinctive way at the Health Department on Wednesday 8th March 2016, with a discussion held at the Sheikh Kalifah Diagnostic Centre Conference Room. In line with this year’s theme for International Women’s Day ‘Be Bold for Change’ the discussion aimed to empower pregnant women to become active participants in the care they receive, while improving the services they are offered as expectant mothers.

The turnout for this remarkable approach towards such a special day was quite specular. In attendance was the Minister for Health and Social Affairs, Mr Jean Paul Adam, who listened intently to points raised and at many occasions agreed to recommendations brought forward from the research but also those raised amongst the crowd.  Also present, was the Seychelles Ambassador for Women and Children Dr Erna Athanasius, two female members of the National Assembly Glacis and Roche Caiman, Hon. Regina Esparon  and Hon. Jany De Letourdie, members of the Seychelles Women’s Trust, and numerous health department staff.

“I am greatly honoured by the presence of the Minister in this unique activity.” says Ms Veroniqua Bresson, organiser of the meeting. “However, I am not satisfied with the overall turnout from the Health Department, because of the absence of people in decision making position.”

Leading the discussion themed, ‘Ed Nou, Pour Ed Ou’ was Ms Patricia Donovan, Mid-wife at the Seychelles Hospital and part time lecturer and the National Institute for Health and Social Studies. Ms Donovan presented the results from a survey conducted amongst 151 pregnant women, aged 18 to 35, who gave birth at the Seychelles hospital in 2016. The main aim of this research was to explore women’s expectations of and satisfaction with the maternity services they receive. 11 recommendations were interpreted from responses in the survey sustaining the discussion that afternoon.

Some of the key trends discussed was enlightening to the researchers as well as the audience. An essential note made amongst those present was, the high level of unplanned births at 56.7 and astonishingly, the high level of satisfaction recorded amongst respondents. This interesting turn of events caused for a deeper evaluation to be made through further discussions, bringing to light how pregnant women have little to no expectations of the care they are receiving.

This precise observation highlighted the main aim for the survey as well as recommendation that most resonated throughout the audience. Maternity care should focus on building a partnership with expectant mothers, to ensure that they know exactly what is happening to her body, the decisions she can make throughout consultations and also her rights.

“I am very happy with the participation of the midwives, pregnant women and external partners in the talk. Their discussions provided some good recommendations that we plan to implement in programmes and guidelines for maternity care,” explains Ms Bresson while discussing the recommendations received from the audience.

A new study will be conducted amongst pregnant women when programmes for maternity care have been altered to involve them more. The researchers hope this will reflect new results.