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IRIN Examines Efforts To Train Midwives, Improve Maternal Health In Laos

“In 2010, for the first time in more than 20 years, 140 midwives graduated in Laos but specialists say their skills may go untapped because the country’s women are not used to visiting health workers,” IRIN reports. “Only 34 percent of women in Laos seek the advice of medical professionals; even fewer see one when they are pregnant, according to government data from 2009-2010,” the news service writes.

“The historical lack of attention paid to maternal health has contributed to Laos being the third-worst out of 161 countries with reliable health data for a child to fall ill, according to the most recent Health Workers Reach Index by Save the Children, which measures not only the number of health workers, but also their impact,” according to IRIN. In Laos’s “hard-to-access mountain villages, women are accustomed to delivering their babies alone,” and “women typically go to the health center … once they encounter severe complications or find their baby is dead,” IRIN writes. According to the news service, “Laos has 859 health centers and the government is aiming to place a midwife in every facility by 2015” (11/16).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.