Needs Assessment Workshop for Skilled Birth Attendants (SBAs)

Proponent : Ministry of Health, Lao PDR
Implementing Agency : Ministry of Health, Lao PDR


The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) is an important factor in evaluating a country’s overall health condition and reflecting on its health infrastructure. Globally, the ratio declined by 38 per cent between 2000 and 2017 from 342 to 211 deaths per 100,000 live births.1 While this has been significant, the figures in Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Myanmar remain high – 160, 185, and 250 deaths, respectively – higher than the average ratio for all ASEAN Member States (AMS) which is 104.2 According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 94% of maternal deaths occurred in low-resource settings and could be prevented by providing high-quality care throughout pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum periods, including ensuring assistance from skilled birth attendants (SBAs).

The limited number of qualified SBAs remains a challenge in the region, especially in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Viet Nam (CLMV). The problem stems in part from lack of an accreditation system with no uniformity in the duration of training and skill development. To decrease MMR among AMS, the ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting (AHMM) and the Senior Officials Meeting on Health Development through the ASEAN Task Force on Maternal and Child Health (ATFMCH) endorsed the first ASEAN Regional Guideline for Minimum Requirements for Training and Accreditation of SBAs in 2014. CLMV countries have since been undertaking efforts to train and accredit SBAs. However, the information on the efficacy of existing initiatives in improving the capacity of SBAs is still lacking.

What is the project aiming for?

The project aims to assess the needs of CLMV countries to enhance the number and coverage of accredited SBAs, particularly in remote and rural areas. This will be achieved by conducing field visits to CLMV countries for a needs assessment, a desk review, and a workshop to disseminate findings. By engaging 18 government officials from CLMV countries, an assessment report is expected to inform the following areas:

  • Divergence of existing capacity and training curriculum of SBAs in the four participating countries; and
  • Recommendations to the implementation design of training and accreditation programmes in accordance with the ASEAN Regional Guideline for Minimum Requirements for Training and Accreditation of SBAs.

We reaffirm our commitment to continue reducing maternal and child mortality, including strengthening local capacity management for emergency obstetric and neonatal services.

Joint Statement of the 12th ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting 
18 September 2014 
Ha Noi, Viet Nam 

The Needs Assessment Workshop for Skilled Birth Attendants (SBAs) project contributes towards the Strategic Measure B.2.iv: Provide mechanisms and enhance institutional capacity to promote greater access to basic social services for all as outlined in the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint 2025. Further, it is in line with the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Work Plan IV (2021-2025), Strategic Area 5. Health and Well-being, Action 2. Provide technical and capacity support to improve the quality of and access to rural health services.

The project commenced in September 2021 and is expected to be implemented until February 2022.

As of 30 November 2021

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