Despite a small increase in the number of midwives across the country, many more will be needed to fight maternal and infant mortality rates.
Photo by: SOVANN PHILONG
Ma Saren, a midwife in Kampong Thom, at her health centre on Monday.
A CHRONIC shortage of skilled midwives could prevent Cambodia from meeting key development goals, officials said Wednesday.
Despite a small increase in the number of midwives in 2008, resource shortages and limited outreach efforts force thousands of women to give birth without proper assistance, impeding efforts to reduce the infant and maternal mortality rates.
"Even though the number of skilled midwives increased in 2008, we still don't have enough. We need more in order to respond to the ministry's plan,"
Minister of Health Mam Bunheng said, referring to the Millennium Development Goals the government has vowed to reach.
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) estimated that there were about 3,300 midwives in Cambodia in 2008.
"We want to find out how many midwives there are each year and whether reproductive health services are meeting demands or not," Pen Sophanara, communications associate for UNFPA, told the Post.
"We see that people know a lot more about reproductive health and about choosing proper health care services, [but] so far there are still not many midwives," she said.
The annual budget for the Ministry of Health's reproductive health programme last year was around US$4 million. This year it is nearly $5 million.
The government says recent incentives will help increase the number of trained midwives.