Greater investment in midwifery needed to ensure quality healthcare for women: reports

Tuesday, 2018-04-24 16:46:08
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A midwife in Gia Lai province provides guidance on caring for newborn to locals. (Photo: NDO)
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NDO – Preventing maternal and newborn deaths and disabilities, while empowering women to make informed, healthy choices and exercise their rights, is key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, new reports launched in Hanoi on April 24 stated.

The first ever National Midwifery Report of Vietnam and the “Exploring barriers to access Maternal and Family Planning services in Ethnic Minority communities" report were launched on Tuesday by the Ministry of Health (MOH), with technical and financial support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Vietnam.

Vietnam has made substantial progress in strengthening safe motherhood and newborn health services. However, there are still significant differences in maternal and child health between those living in the river deltas and those in mountainous areas, with higher maternal mortality ratios in remote and ethnic minority areas. Data from the reports show that the proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel differed by 45 percentage points between ethnic minority participants and national estimates (49% vs. 94%).

The data reveals a significant shortage of skilled birth attendants in hard-to-reach regions and a significant difference in the competency of workers who are working in the lowlands compared to the highlands. 94% of practicing midwives are trained at secondary level and only 0.8% have bachelor qualifications.

Delegates at the launch for the two reports discuss measures to improve the capacity of Vietnamese local midwives. (Photo counterspy to UNFPA)

The reports stressed the importance of reinforcing the status of midwives as proper training empowerment and support could help them to contribute significantly to saving the lives of mothers and newborns, as well as improving the nation’s economic and social productivity. Having midwives at the bedside of every pregnant woman is a highly cost-effective public health strategy.

Midwifery and midwifery practice plays a crucial role in Vietnam’s maternal and newborn health care system, stated Nguyen Viet Tien, Deputy Minister of Health. A skilled midwifery workforce with high competencies, motivation and supported from the healthcare system is key to successfully reducing maternal and newborn mortality and contribute to achieving the SDGs by 2030, he stressed.

Astrid Bant, UNFPA Representative in Vietnam, said that as the country continues to progress socially and economically, sustainable development cannot be achieved without promoting the health - and especially the reproductive health and rights - of women and girls throughout their life cycle.

The two reports also include recommendations to close these gaps and to ensure that all women have access to sexual, reproductive, maternal and newborn services.