The Ministry of Health is increasing the number of midwives it is training this year despite being on track to reach the Millennium Development Goal for midwifery and maternal health, officials said Sunday to mark International Day of the Midwife.
Midwives from around the country will gather today in Phnom Penh to mark the fight against maternal and infant mortality at a ceremony, said Te Kuyseang, secretary of state with the Ministry of Health. “This year, we are recruiting 600 new midwives,” he said, explaining that 500 health personnel received training in midwifery and obstetric care in 2012.
Although the government admits there need to be more midwives posted to rural areas, infant mortality has reduced from 95 deaths per 1,000 births in 2000 to 45 in 2010. The government has even offered to pay higher salaries as an incentive for midwives to go and work in rural areas.
Midwives are essential to advise women on how to avoid unintended pregnancies and general family planning, said Dr. Marc Derveeuw, representative for the U.N.’s Population Fund (UNFPA) in Cambodia. “Worldwide, midwives play a very important role in family planning.”
A UNFPA report released in November found that by increasing the number of midwives, maternal mortality had dropped dramatically, and that Cambodia had already reached its millennium development goal of 250 deaths per 100,000 women giving birth in 2010. “It’s an impressive and quite remarkable figure,” Mr. Derveeuw said, adding that it was realistic that the development goal for births attended by a doctor, nurse or a midwife would also be reached before 2015.
In 2002, only 19 percent of births were attended by a skilled health professional, compared to 70 percent in 2010. By 2015, the Ministry of Health hopes to reach 80 percent.
Mr. Derveeuw said that in 2002, only 8 percent of women gave birth inside state-run health facilities.
“In 2010, we had 59 percent, so you are looking at an enormous success in just over eight years,” he said.