Thursday, 21 March 2019

Blind spot in the Australian Government's National Action Plan for the Health of Children and Young People

The Australian Government has, sensibly, recognised the health of children and young people as important to the health and wellbeing of Australian society in general.
A National Action Plan for the Health of Children and Young People is being developed to take a life course approach in providing a road map for a national approach to providing this cohort to the best start in life.

On page 8 of the draft plan, the key life stages for children and young people are noted as below:

As you would expect, 'preconception to birth and early childhood' are recognised as the foundation of the life cycle and one of the key life stages for children and young people.
The plan says they are taking a ‘life course’ approach and acknowledge preconception, antenatal and infancy time as the beginning of that and a ‘key life stage’ and say they are focusing on prevention and early intervention. There are thirteen priority actions for implementation
However, the plan has a gigantic blind spot in regard to the best way to focus on and succeed with ‘prevention and early intervention’, despite an avalanche of evidence about what works in this area of health care.  

Ensuring the health needs of First Nation Peoples, Rural and Remote Families and Vulnerable Families are met is entirely appropriate.  It makes sense that the plan would seek to ‘Expand support for families, especially families living with adversity’, however, the plan lists the following priority actions:

Priority Four is to 'Roll-out sustained nurse home visiting programs commencing antenatally and with a focus on women living in adversity'. 
Priority Five is to 'Expand evidence-based sustained nurse home visiting programs for Australian Indigenous families' - a US based program where midwifery is unknown in the main.

Where is the role of the midwife? 

Despite the overwhelming amount of evidence demonstrating that continuity of midwifery care improves an array of important outcomes for women and their infants, the midwife is missing from this document. 

Please add your voice to the survey seeking feedback on the plan.

The invitation to comment on the plan opened on the 18 March 2019 and closes 28 March 2019

Children and Youth of Australia need your help to ensure continuity of midwifery care is embedded in the plan. 

The following important points to include in your response are:

Your voice is important. Let's make a real difference to the children and youth of Australia.

Let's ensure all childbearing women have access to continuity of midwifery care and the future reaps the benefits

More references, courtesy of a reader - thank you!

1. Sandall J, Soltani H, Gates S, Shennan A, Devane D. Midwife-led continuity models versus other models of care for childbearing women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2016; 4: Cd004667.
2. Tracy SK, Hartz DL, Tracy MB, et al. Caseload midwifery care versus standard maternity care for women of any risk: M@NGO, a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet 2013; 382(9906): 1723-32.
3. McLachlan HL, Forster DA, Davey MA, et al. Effects of continuity of care by a primary midwife (caseload midwifery) on caesarean section rates in women of low obstetric risk: the COSMOS randomised controlled trial. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology 2012; 119(12): 1483-92.
4. Kildea S, Simcock G, Liu A, et al. Continuity of midwifery carer moderates the effects of prenatal maternal stress on postnatal maternal wellbeing: the Queensland flood study. Archives of Women's Mental Health 2018; 21(2): 203-14.
5. Kildea S, Hickey S, Nelson C, et al. Birthing on Country (in Our Community): a case study of engaging stakeholders and developing a best-practice Indigenous maternity service in an urban setting. Aust Health Rev 2018; 42(2): 230-8.
6. Gao Y, Gold L, Josif C, et al. A cost-consequences analysis of a Midwifery Group Practice for Aboriginal mothers and infants in the Top End of the Northern Territory, Australia. Midwifery 2014; 30(4): 447-55.
7. Toohill J, Turkstra E, Gamble J, Scuffham PA. A non-randomised trial investigating the cost-effectiveness of Midwifery Group Practice compared with standard maternity care arrangements in one Australian hospital. Midwifery 2012; 28(6): e874-e9.
8. Department of Health and Aging. Improving maternity services in Australia: A discussion paper from the Australian Government: Commonwealth of Australia, 2009.
9. AHMAC. National Maternity Services Plan, 2011. Canberra: Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council, Commonwealth of Australia, 2011.

No comments: