Experts discuss strengthening midwifery competencies

The Ministry of Health and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) convened in Vientiane on Mar 26 experts for the validation of midwifery competencies.

The experts included the Lao Association of Midwives, OBGYN Professional Association, Clinical Directors from central and provincial level hospitals and other development partners supporting midwifery.

The competency validation is essential for strong midwifery regulation, so that clinicians and decision makers, and every clinical director understands the role of midwives and creates working environments for them to be able to provide women and their families access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services under the midwives scope.

The document will be also used as the foundation for the midwifery 3-year-curriculum revision to be undertaken this year.

Though the Lao PDR has made great strides towards reducing maternal and child deaths, it remains the country in the region with the highest mortality figures. Inequalities within the country remain high, with lower income households suffering much higher rates of mortality and morbidity.

Midwives who are educated and regulated according to international standards can provide more than 80% of the essential care needed for women and newborns.

In 2020 the Lancet published a research showing that Laos is amongst countries in which the potential impact of midwives in preventing and reducing maternal and neonatal mortality and stillbirths is the highest in the world.

A modest scale-up of investment in midwifery could avert about 25% of maternal and neonatal deaths, while with universal coverage of midwifery services by 2030, over 60% of stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths can be avoided

“Thanks to UNFPA technical and financial support, we have made significant progress toward health-related sustainable development goals. Infant and childhood mortality rates have declined significantly. Investing in health is critical for human and socio-economic development. Health is an essential component of human capital as people are more productive and save and invest more when they are healthier. Considering reproductive health, there is a strong relationship between declining fertility and economic growth,” said Deputy Director of the DHPE Sengmany Khambounheung.

MoH and UNFPA support students from different ethnic groups to become midwives for improving community-based care.

Professionalising midwifery work in Laos is fundamental to realising the government of Laos’ commitment made at the ICPD25 Nairobi Summit. Targets include ending Maternal mortality by 2030,by increasing the proportion of women delivering with trained Skilled Birth Attendance to 90 %;increasing modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate to 70%; and that all health centres should have at least one midwife,” said Ms Mariam A. Khan, UNFPA Representative in the Lao PDR.

Source: Lao News Agency