Afew years ago, it was not unheard of for a midwife in Cambodia to avoid a birthing room because she feared blood, the country director of a volunteers program said yesterday.
But thanks to a project dedicated to tackling shortfalls in midwifery services, it is one of many things changing.
Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr visited the project, at the University of Health Science’s Technical School for Medical Care, yesterday.
Since 2009, a team of seven Australian volunteer midwives, funded by AUD$2.3 million from AusAid, have been teaching and mentoring students with the aim of improving maternal-infant mortality rates.
Australian Volunteers International country director Eleanor Loudon said the program aimed to raise the quality and quantity of midwives.
“This is a long-term project, but we are a model that organisations in the rest of the country can replicate,” Loudon said.
“Before the program started, we knew of situations where midwives wouldn’t enter the birthing room because they were scared of the sight of blood.”
Last year, a UN report said Cambodia was facing a “severe shortage” of midwives and the country was lagging behind its Millennium Development Goal of having 95 per cent of births supervised by a skilled birth attendant by 2015.
Women living in rural areas were particulalry affected.
“The importance of their work, particularly on monitoring the deployment of midwives in the provinces and the establishment of a regulatory framework, should be recognised,” she said.
Minister of Health Mom Bun Heng said Carr’s visit was great publicity for health services.
“[We are] investing heavily in training midwives and endeavouring to encourage people into the profession,” she said.