2023 promises to be an exciting year for the QMNC. We’re set to host our first ever watch party (Dec 8), expand the staff team, and strengthen our collaboration platform. Melissa Cheyney and Holly Powell Kennedy are two of the driving forces behind QMNC. As co-leads of Research Capacity Building and members of the interim steering committee, they work collaboratively to keep the project moving forward.
“We have the great minds of today working together to imagine a healthier and more equitable world. It’s exciting to see this come to fruition,” says Kennedy, who co-authored one of the articles in the 2014 Lancet Series on Midwifery. The series sparked extensive conversation in the research community, identifying knowledge gaps and future research priorities, ultimately leading to the formation of the QMNC. “We’ll know we’re successful,” says Cheyney, “When the next generation of birth scholars looks different than it does now.”
Countries with the highest burden of maternal and infant death and suffering are underrepresented in published research. Often the people writing about solutions aren’t the ones closest to the problem and QMNC aims to change that. The overarching idea is to create a way for researchers across the world to connect and combine resources, expertise, and experience, in a manner that allows the most important research questions to be raised and then worked on collaboratively. “It’s ambitious,” Cheyney admits, “But that’s what we want to do.”
A key component of this vision is the QMNC’s web-based platform. With a framework in place, it’s time to dive in to figure out what works and what doesn’t. The vision for the website is that members with common interests can share ideas and communicate across countries, research expertise, and differing levels of access to resources. Cheyney believes the connections made possible through the online platform “can facilitate a more egalitarian approach to research.” In May we shared about changes to the website as we work to more deeply engage with members through interest-based conversations via email, watch parties, live chats, and website content. Members can expect to hear more in the coming months about how they can connect with others and contribute to interesting conversations happening on the platform.
While the website and other tech tools will facilitate communication, a more deliberate approach is key to driving the research forward. Currently, volunteer experts are leading research conversations within the alliance, but a new staff role of Research Manager will be tasked to push forward an initial research project in each of the three research priorities. The research manager will work closely with other personnel to support members as part of a shared leadership model. There will be a high degree of collaboration between the staff members tasked with community management, research management, and equity coordination for the day in, day out work. The steering committee will continue to provide input and insight as needed.
With all of these new opportunities we expect to learn and improve along the way. As we dive into the exciting year ahead we look forward to member involvement to maximize QMNC’s progress. “I don’t want to see all of the work that has been done to date come to nothing,” Kennedy shares. “We want to make real measurable change in our lifetimes.” We welcome feedback from members as we work together towards a shared vision of a world of equitable and quality maternal and newborn care for all.