A mother and daughter midwives duo share their experience of working in Champasack province in southern Laos, tending to the healthcare needs of mothers and children in rural areas.
A 51-year-old mother, Ms. Simmaly, and her 28-year-old daughter, Ms. Amina have been inseparable in the last few months since UNFPA-trained Amina joined her mother at the Pathoumphone district’s hospital, sharing their passion for maternal health.
Amina is proud to follow in the footsteps of her mother. She says, “When I was very young, I used to accompany my mother for her visits to see pregnant women. I saw her helping mothers to deliver their babies.”
“I saw these women suffering and struggling to get support, so I decided to become a midwife as well. I hope I can help all women in my village and those visiting from other villages to have safe pregnancies and give birth in the best conditions possible.”
Simmaly said she was proud of Amina and her other daughter who trained to become a medical doctor. To contribute to their community’s well being, Simmaly chose to be a midwife because she recognized the significant role of midwives in saving lives and changing harmful norms.
“Around me, there were women who lost their lives because they had complications while giving birth and no skilled midwives to support them. There were some who suffered because they had to cross the borders to other countries to deliver. No woman should face such struggles,” said Simmaly.
To reduce maternal mortality by ensuring voluntary family planning, safe pregnancy and childbirth through availability of qualified health professionals is one of UNFPA’s main interventions in support of MOH in Laos.
Since 2009, UNFPA has supported the country’s midwifery program through collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the Lao Association of Midwives for midwifery system strengthening and skills building.
UNFPA partners include the Maternal Health Trust Fund, KOFIH and Luxembourg. UNFPA is supporting the establishment of three Centers of Excellence in Midwifery Education (Champasak, Luang Prabang and Xiengkhouang provinces) towards National and International accreditation.
UNFPA’s support to midwifery in Laos has seen 2,397 midwives trained and a further 439 upskilled through to higher diploma level in the past decade.
These investments ensure that trained midwives deliver compassionate, respectful reproductive health care to women and families. When based in communities, midwives provide care for the hard-to-reach. When connected to a health network, midwives ensure that mothers, babies and families receive timely, optimal care.
UNFPA’s comprehensive support to MOH and partners covers the full spectrum of education, capacitation and regulation of midwifery in Laos.
A higher Diploma course level within the national curriculum that meets international standards, while in-service midwives are capacitated for managing Obstetric complications through the “Low Dose High Frequency” training on Postpartum Hemorrhage and Eclampsia. The establishment of the Lao Midwife Association in 2022 is a critical step for the regulation of the midwifery profession in Laos.
However, there remains an unfinished agenda: Estimates show that about 200 health centers in Laos still lack trained midwife. To meet the national goal of placing midwives in each health center by 2030, there is a need to upgrade 1,200 midwives to Higher Diploma level and a further 1,500 midwives need to be deployed to cover maternity care needs.
UNFPA encourages urgent action from the government and development partners to invest in trained and skilled midwives for prevention, treatment, early detection of reproductive health complications and timely referrals.
It costs USD 3,000 to train a midwife in Laos and it costs almost the same per year to deploy one.