Midwife – Flagship of Reproductive Health Care and Services

5 May 2018

Vientiane Capital –May 5th 2018 marks the celebration of the annual International Day of the Midwife. The theme of this year’s celebration set by the International Confederation of Midwives ‘Midwives Leading the Way with Quality Care.’

The day highlights that midwives are the backbone of healthy families and communities and indispensable for the reduction in maternal and child mortality. Globally 303,000 women continue to die in pregnancy and childbirth, and almost 2.6 million babies die in the first few weeks of birth each year. 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries, therefore we need to address the global shortage of midwives and ensure they are competent and properly educated and trained to global standards.

 The Lao Social Indicator Survey (LSIS) 2011-2012, showed a Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) was 357/100,000 live births which was one of the highest in the ASEAN region. Women and girls were suffering from discriminations, inequalities and limited access to reproductive health information and services, including family planning.

Due to this high MMR, Lao PDR took a big step forward and the Government made a commitment to produce a workforce of 1500 midwives by 2015. The midwifery cadre was established through the implementation of the Skilled Birth Attendance Plan (2009-2012) with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and other partners. Various training modules were developed including the one year post-basic training for community midwives and the two year direct entry for school leavers to eighteen months post basic for mid-level health care providers. To further improve the quality of the midwifery cadre,   the Department of Health Professional Education (DHPE) has revised midwifery training and a three year course is now available as a high level Diploma course since 2014

“Midwives do more than deliver babies. They provide more than 85% of all sexual and reproductive health services. Throughout pregnancy and childbirth they support the mothers and babies with care and information. This close relationship allows for an excellent opportunity to provide the mothers with information on family planning, reproductive health matters, including sexually transmitted infections, HIV, and more such as breastfeeding and nutrition” says Ms. Frederika Meijer, UNFPA Lao PDR Representative

Currently there are more than 1794 practicing midwives in the country, by having midwives at the lowest level at health centers, close to the mothers and communities, they help increasing access to care for rural populations.

The increased number of midwives with improved skills contributed to a huge decrease in maternal mortality. The MMR went down to 206 per 100,000 live births in 2015 (data from the Population and Housing Census 2015)

The Lao Government has made great efforts to improve the quantity and quality of Midwives. Together with other development partners, UNFPA has been providing technical and financial support to the midwifery programme, because evidence has shown that strengthening capacity of midwives is key to achieve universal access to sexual and reproductive health.

“Midwives help women and girls to have the sexual and reproductive health information they need and provide access to the necessary services. Midwives can ensure women’s reproductive rights and support all efforts to bring down the unmet need for family planning and maternal mortality to zero” Ms. Meijer added




For more information, please contact UNFPA:

Ms. Kay amphone Singhalath (Kookai)

Tel: +856 21 267 680

Mob: 020 7777 6597