13 new midwives ready to serve Bokeo health centres
Plan International's second cohort of scholarship recipients for classes that teach them to be skilled birth attendants are ready to return to their hometowns and work in rural health centres in Bokeo province.
The young midwives have spent two years at the Health Training Centre in Saravan province to study and practice midwifery, according to Plan International on Tuesday.
|Scholarship recipients from Bokeo province study and practice midwifery skills in Saravan province.
About 70 percent of Laos' population of 6.5 million people live in rural areas where there is limited access to public services and a lack of skilled ethnic human resources in the health sector.
While access to health services is improving every year and the government with support from development partners is investing a lot in health infrastructure and facilities, the number of ethnic midwives in rural areas is still low, particularly in Bokeo.
It is challenging to convince ethnic people to visit health centres for antenatal care and/or delivery of their babies. Often they don't speak Lao, which increases communication and service gaps between villagers and health staff.
In Bokeo, there are several ethnic groups that have their own spoken languages and rarely communicate in Lao, especially women and girls.
“We are supporting young, enthusiastic midwifery students in their studies and with professional supportive supervision after their graduation when they are working in rural and remote district health centres,” Plan International Laos Country Director Mona Girgis said.
“Plan's partnership with the Ministry of Health and our work with the health centres will help to decrease maternal and child mortality which, while improving, remains high in Laos,” she added.
The fertility rate in rural Bokeo province is about 3.6 children for each woman according to the 2012 Lao Social Indicator Survey. Unfortunately, many of these women give birth before the age of 18. In the rural northern provinces, for every 1,000 girls aged between 15 and 19, there are 120 births. The 0-5 year old child mortality rate is also high in Bokeo province, at 110 per 1,000 children.
“Many people in my village don't go to health centres for antenatal care and/or delivery of babies, unless they face difficulties delivering the baby at home,” said Miss Keophet, a Plan International scholarship graduate and midwife from the Khmu community in Bokeo province.
“I hope I will be able to encourage pregnant women to use my services, and help save the lives of at-risk mothers and babies,” she added.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update February 8, 2017)