Midwives save lives: an ambitious skills building project to improve maternal health care in Laos

Investment in strengthening the quality midwifery care gives rise to a huge return on maternal, adolescent and child health.

In fact, previous successful projects in Laos to strengthen the training curricula for midwives have shown remarkable results in terms of the quality services provided.

Skilled midwives can avert maternal and newborn deaths and respond to the needs of family planning but can also, with appropriate skills and resources, reach out to larger populations in need of maternal healthcare and family planning services, particularly women, girls and adolescents.

Building on the efforts to strengthen midwifery, UNFPA is pleased to have entered into agreement with the Korea Foundation for International Healthcare (KOFIH) to fund a one year programme in the amount of 1.8 Billion KIP for strengthening midwifery services. 

The two mountainous provinces of Houaphanh and Xieng Khuang will be the target provinces of this programme that will aim to improve the clinical and teaching skills of midwives, midwife teachers and clinical preceptors in order to provide quality sexual and reproductive health services with a focus on managing obstetric emergencies in government facilities as well as through outreach services to communities.

To strengthen midwives knowledge and ability to deliver Basic Emergency Obstetric Care, the programme will be using the Low Dose High Frequency modality which is a capacity-building approach that promotes maximal retention of clinical knowledge, skills, and attitudes through short, targeted in-service simulation-based learning activities, which are reinforced with structured, ongoing practice sessions on the job. This will complement the broader efforts in Emergency Obstetric Care that is currently being implemented through the Reproductive Maternal Newborn Child and Adolescent Health Strategy (RMNCAH, 2016-2025) of the Ministry of Health.

“Though the commencement of the programme is on hold depending on the current COVID-19 situation, the implementation however will be very ambitious as soon as it starts by targeting no less than 192,267 women and girls of reproductive age who are currently living in Xieng Khuang and Huaphanh provinces through trained health providers” says Ms.Sengmany Khambounheuang, Deputy Director, Department of Health Professional Education.

The activities will be launched as soon as partners at the Ministry of Health allow travel to the provinces to start the Training of Trainers programme that will target twelve health professional teachers at the Xieng Khuang School of Health Sciences. They will then build skills, knowledge and techniques of the Health Service providers in 149 health facilities. The project plans also to ensure procurement of necessary equipment and materials, provide technical assistance in midwifery, and develop supportive supervision strategy.

Xieng Khuang Provincial Department of Health Director General, Dr. Bounxay Nounthasimsay, welcomes this initiative saying “Based on long-term cooperation with KOFIH since 2010, this cooperation for upgrading the knowledge and skills of midwives will add more value to the previous efforts.” He also mentioned his hope that this partnership among Xieng Khuang province, KOFIH, and UNFPA will bring the actual quality of care to many health centers and villages.”

Ms. Mariam A. Khan, UNFPA Representative in the Lao PDR said “this programme brings together the expertise and resources of multiple partners for a dynamic shift in how midwifery services will be provided in support of women, girls and their families. The partners are the Ministry of Health’s Department of Health Professional Education (DHPE), KOFIH, UNFPA, along with Xieng Khuang School of Health Sciences and the Lao Association of Midwives (LAM)”.

Source: Lao News Agency

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