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140 health facilities in remote areas all over the country now have professionally trained skilled health providers to save the lives of mothers and babies. The new Community Midwives were trained, after a two-decade gap in the country, under the National Skilled Birth Attendance plan that supports the delivery of the national Integrated Package of Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health Services.

The programme implemented by the Ministry of Health with support from the United Nations Population Fund, (UNFPA), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Bank (WB), the Japan's International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the Government of Luxembourg, provided scholarships to 140 students in 7 Provincial Health Schools located in Oudomxay, Xiengkhuang, Luang Prabang, Champasak, Savanaket, Kammouane and the Faculty of Nursing in the University of Health Sciences in Vientiane.

On occasion of the graduation of the new midwives, the Ministry of Health in collaboration with UNFPA, hosted on July 6th the National Midwives Day to highlight the importance of midwives to achieve the health priorities of the country.

"When they are properly trained, empowered and supported, midwives offer the most cost-effective and high-quality path to maternal and newborn health. Midwives provide care for women during pregnancy, childbirth and the post-natal period. In case of pregnancy complications and emergencies, midwives perform key life-saving functions. They offer reproductive health information and services, including family planning, which allows women to space their next birth or avoid unwanted pregnancies. On this important day, UNFPA confirm its commitment to work to improve the education, regulation, status and working conditions of midwives in communities." said Mieko Yabuta, UNFPA's Representative.

The ceremony held at the National Cultural Hall and chaired by His Excellency Dr. Professor Eksavang Vonvichit, Minister of Health, included the giving of the licenses to the first badge of Community Midwives as well as the licensing of 22 professional teachers trained in midwifery and training skills. Her Excellency Ms. Sengdeuane Lachanthaboun, Vice Minister of Education and Deputy Chair of the National Commission for Mother and Child Health was invited to the event as a guest of honour.

A 15 minutes documentary about the Community Midwives Programme in remote areas of Lao PDR was presented during the ceremony. The video, recorded in Xiengkouang Province and produced by UNFPA's Asia Pacific Regional Office, shows how having skilled birth attendants is helping to improve the health of mothers and babies in these communities. Click here to watch the short version of the video (English).

A photo exhibition about Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in Lao PDR was displayed at the National Cultural Hall.


The National Midwives Day was also supported by WHO, UNICEF, WB, JICA, ADB, Government of Luxembourg, Medecins du Monde and the French Red Cross.


Within the framework of the event, UNFPA and WHO launched in the country The State of World's Midwifery 2011, a comprehensive report supported by 30 partners that provides the first analysis of midwifery services and issues in countries where the needs are greatest. Lao PDR is one of seven countries in the world with the highest maternal mortality ratio, the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, outside of Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Executive Summary of the Report as well as the Lao PDR profile, with concrete figures and facts about the situation in the country, were translated into Lao language and distributed within the audience during the National Midwives' Day.

The report highlights the need for greater and more equitable access to essential midwifery services and provides added impetus for a global gear change to ensure more women get the support of a skilled midwife. The report provides with a reminder of what still needs to be done and a benchmark for progress in the fight against maternal mortality.

Click here to download the full report (English)

Diego De La Rosa, Tel.: (+856 21) 315547, Mobile: (+856) 20 59936509,