The first professional matrons in Spain
Universal access to health is a right for women, and professional midwives play an important role. Qualified, according to international regulations for sexual and reproductive healthcare, to attend women at different stages of the life cycle. Annual WHO reports on the state of midwives around the world, centred on 73 of the 75 countries with low and medium incomes (including the Countdown to 2015 reports), where over 92% of maternal, neonatal and postnatal deaths occur. Professional midwives can cover 87% of these services, but only make up 36% of midwifery staff in the countries which provided data.
In spite of the evident differences, when Western countries established professional qualifications for midwifery, problems arose which WHO pointed out in reports. Reading up on these could suggest useful ways to tackle these problems.
In Spain, for example, the first batch of 1924/25, saw 12 matrons graduate (the regulations for the first School of Matrons were drawn up in 1916, with a legal register in the se Casa de Salud de Santa Cristina de Madrid); they were bourgeois women from Madrid who raised money to start building the school. In 1944 the Maternidad de Santa Cristina de Madrid was opened, where the first school for matrons was installed. The history of professional matrons represents the beginning of institutionalised delivery in Madrid, and undoubtedly improved practical training, although the set-up established control by and subordination to the figure of the doctor, as also occurred in 73 of the countries mentioned.