Village-based midwives have proven efficient in protecting and improving the health of ethnic women living in mountainous, hard-to-reach and border areas.

“These midwives who offer near-immediate health services in remote areas have helped thousands of women to give birth safely, saving the lives of mothers and infants,” said Nguyen Thi Lan, Director of the Reproductive Health Centre of Central Highlands Dak Nong province.

Thanks to support from the Mother and Infant Mortality Reduction Programme, the Ho Chi Minh City-based Tu Du hospital and the Dak Nong Reproductive Health Centre organised training courses for midwives. The province, which is home to numerous ethnic groups, now has 125 trained midwives who understand the language, culture and belief system of local residents. They are encouraging women from ethnic groups to get antenatal check-ups while providing them with knowledge on maternal and newborn health.

They also act as medical staff at communal infirmities which provide check-ups for mothers and infants at home, and participate in immunisation and malnutrition programmes, thus raising the number of local people to access primary health care services.

As a result, the ratio of ethnic pregnant women who register for maternal check-ups in communes rise significantly every year, leading to the increasing number of those women’s deliveries with assistance from midwives. The old maternal tradition of ethnic groups such as delivering in forests far away from health facilities and without skilled attendants has been eliminated, contributing to reducing maternal and child mortality among ethnic people.

In 2014, the Dak Nong centre plans to train an additional 20 village-based midwives and provide refresher training for 99 others while calling for more assistance from programmes and organisations for sustainable operation.

The centre also revises intensives for those midwives, keeping their mind on their work.

According to the Health Ministry’s statistics, the mother mortality rate has reduced significantly in Vietnam with the maternal mortality ratio at 233 deaths per 100,000 live births a decade ago compared to 69 per 100,000 in 2010. The country targets reducing the mortality rate to 59 per 100,000 by 2015.-VNA