Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng raised the shortage of skilled midwives in Cambodia, which currently has more than 6,000 midwives, and urged stakeholders to consider the development of human resources in this sector in response to population growth.

The call came as the ministry, together with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in Cambodia, Clinton Health Access Initiative Inc and development partners celebrate National Midwifery Day on May 5, with the theme “Investing in midwives to strengthen primary healthcare to achieving universal health coverage ”.

“We have 6,688 midwives across the country, both in the public and private sectors. I understand that people are continuing to be born. There must be more midwives, so we have to think about science-related plans and the development of human resources to suit the needs of the population,” he said.

He thanked the government, health officials and authorities at all levels for their efforts in managing the Covid-19 pandemic, which made the celebrations possible.

In particular, he thanked the midwives for their significant contribution to providing services to all citizens – especially the provision of reproductive health services, sexual health, maternal and child health – despite the suffering that the pandemic had wrought, both in Cambodia and around the world.

First Lady Bun Rany – president of the Cambodian Red Cross (CRC) who has earned the title National Outstanding Leader of the Joint Action Plan of the UN Secretary-General for Women and Children – called on health workers to provide education to men and women who are about to get married about reproduction health and the prevention of infectious diseases, especially those which can be transferred from mother to child.

She called for increased provision of care during pregnancy, prevention and early detection of complications and for support during labour and postpartum care, as well as strengthening the provision of contraception and other necessary services related to midwifery.

Bun Rany called on all pregnant women to go for regular check-ups as instructed by their doctors, to give birth at health centres or referral hospitals and to have post-natal health check-ups. They should take their babies for the 11 vaccines that were recommended and should not hesitate to take children to the nearest hospital if they have a fever or difficulties breathing.

UNFPA in Cambodia, which specialises in maternal and child health, celebrated National and International Midwifery Day in Cambodia and thanked all midwives for caring for women and new-borns, providing contraception and family planning services and promoting the rights of women and girls.

According to the health ministry, despite the pressure of Covid-19, the health care system continued to operate nationwide and achieved the results it planned.

Maternal mortality decreased from 170 per 100,000 live births in 2014 to 141 in 2019. The birth rate by skilled health workers increased from 85 per cent in 2016 to 89 per cent in 2020.

The birth rate at health facilities also increased from 80 to 89 per cent during the same period.

Separately, the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) on May 5 also informed that women who are from 26 weeks pregnant can apply for a government subsidy of 400,000 riel ($100) and a bonus of 70 per cent.