Laos First Country in ASEAN to Achieve ICM Midwifery Education Accreditation

Midwifery training in Laos (National Round Table Process).
Midwifery training in Laos (National Round Table Process).

The International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), an accredited non-governmental organization representing midwives and midwifery to organizations worldwide, has officially made a decision to accredit three centers of excellence for midwifery education in Laos. 

After the visit to assess the three institutions in the second half of 2022 in three institutes of the Colleges of Health Sciences in Champasak, Luang Prabang, and Xiengkhouang Provinces.

The colleges have met 35 out of a total of 37 Standards of ICM, with only two Standards partially met. It marked tremendous achievement for the colleges.

ICM’s Midwifery Education Accreditation Programme (MEAP) is based on international best practices in midwifery education and accreditation. Its goal is to evaluate pre-service midwifery education programs against the ICM Global Standards.

The MEAP is also a benchmark for midwifery education programs that seek to meet international standards, and Laos is the first country in ASEAN to obtain such accreditation.

“The three Colleges received their National Accreditation last year, and their goal to achieve the MEAP status is also fulfilled,” Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith, Minister of Health congratulated all three colleges on their efforts to obtain International Accreditation.

“For Lao PDR, MEAP will help ensure consistency in midwifery education and identify best practices and gaps for partners/implementers to provide more focused, effective, and sustainable support for high-quality midwifery education,” he noted.

UNFPA, in close partnership with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education and Sports, has supported the Lao Midwifery Programme since 2009. As part of the support, UNFPA has also helped prepare the promising centers of excellence in midwifery education towards international standards.

A nurse in Xieng Khouang Province examines a pregnant woman’s health. (Photo: UNFPA Laos).

“The three centers of excellence for midwifery education have made an immense effort to go through all aspects of evaluation: administration, student body, alumni, faculty members, assessment, equipment and facilities, and clinical placement site. This valuable accreditation for standards of midwifery teaching in Lao PDR not only acts as a quality mark but also ensures graduate outcomes,” said Assoc Prof Dr. Phout Simmalavong, Minister of Education and Sports.

“The midwives were so proud because the work for this task was hefty, and they remained committed to achieving this despite the past few years riddled with COVID-19-related challenges. The accreditation will be valid for three years, and they are already planning to sustain their MEAP status by beginning their preparation now! UNFPA is delighted to have supported this successful result for midwifery education in Lao PDR,” Mariam A. Khan, UNFPA Representative added.

Recent research shows that a well-trained midwife, with access to requisite equipment and connected to a health service network can respond to over 80% of maternal health requirements. Midwives are essential in Laos to reduce maternal deaths, according to UNFPA.