Pregnant Women in Need of Better Healthcare


Pregnant women are in need of more information concerning healthcare which should be provided by specialists including midwives, to reduce Laos’ high rate of child mortality.

This was the central message delivered at a workshop in Vientiane yesterday by the Deputy Director of the Mother and Newborn Hospital, Dr. Souvannaheuang Somboun.

About 70 percent of child mortality in Laos can be attributed to the fact that mothers do not receive good healthcare, especially during delivery, he said. A member of the Paediatrics Association of Laos, Dr. Alongkhone Phengsavanh, also told the workshop that more communication was needed between obstetricians and neonatology staff.

The workshop focused on theoretical considerations and the correct sequence of events in the resuscitation of newborn infants.

Familiarity with the required equipment for resuscitative procedures as well as the ability to use equipment during resuscitation was essential, Dr. Alongkhone said.

Emphasis should be placed on the modification of standard procedures for specific underlying conditions requiring resuscitation, he added.

The newborn, or neonate, is generally defined as an infant during the first 28 days of life. The term ‘newly born’ refers specifically to the newborn within minutes until hours after birth.

Midwives are important in helping with the early stages of the life of newborn babies but for many years they have lacked adequate knowledge about the care of women prior to delivery.

Prof. Dr. Thomas Hoehn of the Neonatology Resuscitation Unit at Heinrich-Heine University in Duesseldorf, Germany, said “If we know the reasons for the problems we can reduce the child mortality rate.”

If pregnant women cannot access health services at hospitals and dispensaries, then child mortality will be high. This lack of healthcare is one of the reasons that babies are born prematurely.

The health sector in Laos needs to encourage greater healthcare for mothers and their children as well as work to decrease the number of deaths among newborn babies, the doctor added. A senior official from the Ministry of Health said “I think rural women still suffer from this problem because of their poverty and lack of understanding about healthcare, mainly among the ethnic groups in some provinces of Laos.”

Following traditional practices, they prefer give birth at home rather than going to hospitals.

He also pointed out that the use of clean diapers was also a problem for rural mothers, as the risk of infection increased when mothers used unclean diapers.

According to 2015 figures from the Ministry of Health, the mortality rate of children under one year is 40 out of every 1,000 live births, while for children under five it is 70 out of every 1,000 live births. The death rate of newborns is 30 out of every 1,000 live births.

By 2020 the ministry hopes to reduce the mortality rate of children less than one year old to 30 out of every 1,000 live births, and to 45 out of every 1,000 live births for children under five years of age.

Source: Vientiane Times