After 20 year-gap, training of midwives resumes in Laos
As recently as 2005, 405 women in every 100,000 were dying in childbirth in the country, with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimating that a staggering 72 per cent of those deaths could have been avoidable.
A big part of the problem lay in the fact that 90 per cent of all deliveries in Laos took place in the home, under the supervision of untrained people.
But now, for the first time in 22 years, the first group of 140 students to undergo special training in midwifery and childbirth are about to graduate from a specially designed programme.
BounLouan Seng Phachanh, a community nurse who has completed the programme, spoke of the dangers faced by those women attended to by untrained midwives:
“A mother in her ninth pregnancy came in for delivery and we were forced to do it in the dark when the electricity went off. Her uterus was not contracting after the delivery; there was no refrigeration and no ice to treat her haemorrhaging.
“I did not know what to do and just stuffed gauze up her vagina and massaged her stomach.”
Now BounLouan is qualified to administer the drug Oxytocin, which can combat such haemorrhaging.
100 midwives nationwide who trained 20 years ago are still working.
160 health workers are trained every year. But even if the government continues annual training programmes at the current level it would take another decade to staff each of the country’s 825 health centres and 122 district hospitals with at least one trained midwife, said the deputy general director of health personnel at the Health Ministry, Phouthone Vangkonevilay.
Read the full story at IRIN Asia.