SEA/RC61/10 - Managing human resources for accelerating reduction of maternal and neonatal mortalities
AbstractThe attached paper describes how the community-based health providers for maternal and newborn health (MNH) in some countries of the Region are often insufficient in number, as well as in their midwifery skills. As a result, there is limited access to skilled care at birth, especially for marginalized communities. Also, there are a limited number of specialists usually concentrated in urban areas. The lack of and inequity in access to skilled care at birth, emergency obstetric care and management of problems of the newborns hamper the efforts to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality as targeted in the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5. To address these challenges, it is proposed that all Member countries in the South-East Asia (SEA) Region strengthen their national database on human resources for MNH; develop a long-term national plan to address the gaps of human resources for MNH by category and ensure adequate resources and effective implementation; strengthen human resource management for MNH services; and work with partners, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and stakeholders in developing a clear policy and plan on skilled birth attendants (SBAs). Besides those actions at the policy level, other actions are also needed at the entry level for preparing the workforce; at the workforce level for enhancing performance; and at the exit level for managing attrition. WHO should advocate for increasing the investment in human resources for MNH and to work together with Member countries in addressing the key challenges. This paper was discussed at the Meeting of the Advisory Committee (ACM) held in SEARO, New Delhi, from 30 June to 3 July 2008. The ACM made the following recommendations: Action by Member States (1) Identify innovative strategies and actions to address the issues and challenges of human resources for MNH at policy, entry, workforce and exit levels, taking into account the sociocultural context in countries; (2) Build common understanding on the training of skilled birth attendants (SBA) and utilize evidence-based information on the impact of socio-cultural factors on MNH; (3) Arrange training for the existing health workers to meet the needs of birth attendants of the Member countries as interim measures, as required; (4) Provide more attention to key areas of MNH, i.e. newborn health and its dependence on maternal health, maternal nutrition and breastfeeding, postpartum haemorrhage, etc., and ensure that such aspects are included in training of SBAs for MNH; and (5) Utilize community-based health workers and volunteers in providing psychosocial support to mothers and families along with other public health interventions. Action by WHO/SEARO (1) Provide country-specific guidance in managing health workforce in MNH and advocate for relevant policy issues; (2) Collaborate and coordinate with other UN agencies and development partners in addressing the issues and challenges of human resources and other MNH programme issues to foster the implementation of actions in an integrated manner; and (3) Promote the use and implementation of evidence-based policies, standards and tools for improving human resources for MNH. The paper is now submitted to the Sixty-first Session of the Regional Committee for its consideration.
World Health Organization, Regional Office for South-East Asia. (2008). SEA/RC61/10 - Managing human resources for accelerating reduction of maternal and neonatal mortalities. WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia. http://www.who.int/iris/handle/10665/128641