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Spotlight On: Nafiza Anwar, Better Births lead, on maternal health inequality

Date: 14/10/2021 | Category: Blogs

As part of our Black History Month #ProudToBe celebrations, we spoke with Better Births lead and local midwife, Nafiza Anwar, about how the system is tackling maternal health inequality often experienced by mothers from ethnic minority backgrounds.

“My name is Nafiza, I’ve been a midwife for 23 years and am currently working for Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust as the Better Births lead midwife.

“Within my role as the Better Births lead, I support the Trust to roll out the national maternity transformation programme and the ambition is to make sure all women have safe, effective and personalised care.

“This is especially focussed on women from black and Asian ethnic minority backgrounds because we know from various reports that these women have a higher chance of adverse outcomes. They are more likely to be at risk of dying in pregnancy and birth. One of the recent reports highlighted that black women are four times more likely to die and Asian women are twice more likely to die.

“My role is really about working with the local maternity system and the Maternity Voices Partnership to co-design and co-produce services that meet the needs of our women. To make sure we don’t bring out a service that is one size fits all but tailoring services that meet the needs of the community because only then will we reduce the disparities and inequalities that do exist in our service.

“If our mothers want to get information on services, they can visit our website: https://www.bedfordshirehospitals.nhs.uk/our-services/maternity-obstetrics/maternity-services-luton-and-dunstable-university-hospital/ where leaflets and videos are available. These leaflets are available in various languages. Mothers can also access information from their community midwifes who will be ready and happy to provide information or signpost them to available services.

“We are also working with the Maternity Voices Partnerships to develop other tools and information packages that will meet the needs of our women including a personalised care plan. The plan is part of our Better Births ambition and is a document purely for the mother so she can plot her pregnancy and birth journey. Using that she can also consult and get advice from her health care professional about the options available.

“When planning a birth, it’s all about evidence-based information from health care providers and can be done through these documents, which can be translated into different languages. We can also use our interpreting services to inform women if there’s a language barrier during an appointment or consultation. We’re developing all this to make it easier for our community to access information.

“In terms of digital services, we’re looking at a digital platform that will have all this information on and working with community leaders to fully understand what is required by women and their families.”