Learning from Successful Intercultural Midwifery Models of Care: From Summer MPH internship at Centro Osa Mayor in Tulum, México to the Ecuadorian Amazon


For approximately twelve weeks, I have worked as a graduate student intern at the Centro de Parto Osa Mayor in Tulum, Mexico. The purpose of this project was to develop a comprehensive understanding of what a successful model of an intercultural midwifery clinic looks like in Mexico, in order to explore the possibility of applying something similar in the Ecuadorian Amazon. I have worked on indigenous health issues in Ecuador and Peru since 2006 as an anthropologist, program director, and Maternal and Child Health consultant. In the Centro, I co-developed midwifery skills and evaluation assessment for mix-literacy level midwifery students, developed and executed a midwifery leadership training program, worked with Osa Mayor director and the Vice President of the Midwifery Association of Mexico (AMP) to develop advocacy tools for their midwifery certification program, and facilitated conversations with midwifery students and Osa Mayor staff about expanding Osa Mayor into a larger birth center and midwifery teaching school. Lessons learned: conversations currently being undertaken in the field of Maternal and Child Health and Global Health need to extend beyond simply treating maternal and infant mortality as a priority. We need to focus on improving the quality of care and the quality of life that women and their families have access to. The use of the findings of this research will not only be useful in order to promote more spaces for indigenous midwifery in Ecuador but there is much important, evidence-based work happening within the context of the midwifery model of care in Mexico that has the potential to significantly impact the sphere of global health and maternal health. Too many interventions originate from the Northern Hemisphere and both western medicine and midwifery have a lot to learn from indigenous, traditional, and non-traditional midwives in Latin America.

Robin Fink
Publication date: 
August 18, 2017
Publication type: 
Student Research