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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kingdom has 'severe shortage' of midwives

Kingdom has 'severe shortage' of midwives

Cambodia must increase the number of midwives working in the Kingdom in order to meet a goal of having 95 percent of births supervised by a skilled birth attendant by 2015, according to a report released yesterday.

The State of the World’s Midwifery 2011 report, released by the United Nations Population Fund and partner organisat-ions, found that an estimated 567 more  midwives were needed in Cambodia to meet a projected Millennium Development Goal target of 2,481. Cambodia is one of 38 countries facing a “severe shortage” of midwives, with an average of six midwives per 1,000 live births, the report stated. The maternal mortality rate is 290 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to 2008 data.

For the past 20 years, midwife numbers had not been sufficient to meet the needs of the population, Kathryn Hinchliff, a midwife and volunteer at the Cambodia Midwives Association, said yesterday.

She said, however, that early next year the first group of students to take part in a three-year training programme established in 2008 would become midwives. “There are well over 300 more students now in training than there were three years ago,” Hinchliff said.

The government aimed to reduce maternal mortality to 250 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2015,  Health Minister Mam Bunheng said yesterday.

A four-year midwife training programme was also under way, he said.

“We aim to put midwives with one year of training into each hospital in the remote areas of Cambodia. Then we will put midwives with three years of training in each hospital [alongside them], followed by midwives with four years of training, so it will reduce the maternal mortality rate in the countryside.”

Hinchliff said primary midwives, who received one year of training, needed to work alongside secondary midwives with a three-year nursing degree or from a direct-entry midwifery programme.

“Because of the lack of secondary midwives, [primary midwives] have had to take on more responsibility, which has been a problem,” she said.



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