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Africa: Maternal Mortality

Volume 699: debated on Thursday 28 February 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the improvement of performance against the Department for International Development's targets to reduce maternal mortality in Africa will depend more on the training of traditional birth attendants in situ than on increasing staff and skilled attendants within the government health services. [HL1492]

DfID's performance on reducing maternal mortality in Africa will not depend on training traditional birth attendants (TBAs) at the expense of increasing skilled birth attendants (SBAs). Evidence has shown that TBA training has little demonstrable impact on reducing maternal deaths. However, TBAs can have an important socio-cultural role. There is evidence (eg in Egypt) that where they are linked to the formal health system, more women benefit from skilled birth attendance.

DfID helps strengthen country health systems as a whole, including training health workers, improving the supply of drugs and commodities, infrastructure, planning and financing to ensure effective delivery of reproductive health services.