The leading role of the UTS Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Health in achieving United Nations Millennium Development Goals in the Asia Pacific region was celebrated recently together with International Midwives Day and International Nurses Day.
Academics, support staff, students and industry partners gathered to review achievements in research and teaching and learning that are contributing to UN goals such as improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases and developing a global partnership for development.
A researcher with the UTS World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre, Lisa Conlon, discussed the importance of the centre's work in developing the capabilities of the nursing workforce in the region.
As a registered nurse and a consultant to WHO, Conlon's research interests lie in the area of emergency and disaster preparation of health personnel in conflict and humanitarian situations.
In 2008, she received a nomination for a UTS Human Rights Award for her nursing and aid work in China following the Sichuan earthquake.
"Emergency and disaster nursing is an important health service and crucial in a crisis situation," she said.
"In recent times, the need for more trained and experienced nursing, midwifery and health professionals has grown significantly. Nurses are often the first to treat a patient and can make a huge difference to outcomes."
Director of the Centre for Midwifery, Child and Family Health, Professor Caroline Homer, has lead the development and implementation of innovative models of midwifery care and the development of midwifery practice and education at UTS.
She spoke of current infant and maternal mortality rates being an international scandal that needed to be taken seriously.
"It is unacceptable that one woman dies every minute of every day because she is pregnant, especially when most deaths are preventable," Professor Homer said.
"The provision of an extra 350,000 midwives worldwide is even more urgent when we consider that every year 1. 5 million newborns die within the first 24 hours of life and millions of women suffer long lasting disability because they do not have access to basic healthcare during childbirth."
To achieve the millennium development goals of reducing child mortality and improving maternal health by 2015, Professor Homer believes that midwifery should be a priority for all governments.
"We are not exempt from these issues in Australia," she said. "2010 is a significant year for midwifery – for the first time in our history there is legislation to give midwives access to public funding through Medicare to provide care."
The Dean of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Professor John Daly said UTS was in a position to actively contribute to the health of communities through research into best practice and educating the next generation of health professionals.
"The faculty is proud of the contributions of all our staff and students to the health of our communities and continues to support and encourage excellence in both research and teaching and learning," he said.