Health experts have disagreed on whether to train traditional birth attendants (TBAs) in order to reduce death of newborns and maternal mortality.
By Francis Emorut
KAMPALA - Health experts have disagreed on whether to train traditional birth attendants (TBAs) in order to reduce death of newborns and maternal mortality.
Experts in support of the move argued that the TBAs are very influential people in the community, in that they assist in delivery of newborns.
“Traditional birth attendants are influential people who should be supported and equipped with medicals skills,” Dr. Koheleth Winani who is in charge of reproductive health in the ministry health of Tanzania said.
“You never deployed them and you are not paying them, why do you want to stop them?” Winani wondered.
He said it is scientifically proven that 15% of pregnant women will face complications while giving birth and 85% deliver normally. So he sees the fuss about the TBAs as needless.
A health expert from Malawi noted that there was need to train TBAs to save lives of women who die during delivery.
This was during the regional workshop to validate the regional standard practice to expand access to family planning and maternal newborn and child health services.
The workshop was at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala.
A Kenyan health expert mentioned that her country has TBAs operating in Kibera slums in Nairobi.
The health ministry there visited the slum area and when they found the attendants assisting in delivery, they felt it was a good job.
The Kampala workshop pulled health experts were from the east, central and southern Africa.
Those against the training argued that the TBAs could only refer pregnant mothers to healthcare facilities and not take part in the delivery of newborn.
“It is scientifically proven that the methods used by TBAs are wrong and it has not contributed to the reduction of maternal mortality rate,” Dr. Odongo Odiyo, the manager family planning and reproductive health of East, Central and Southern Africa- Health Community (ECSA-HC) said.
He pointed out that the policy of ECSA is not to train traditional birth attendants but instead to discourage them.
“Despite all that, a policy was passed not to recognize TBAs and an embargo placed that no country should mention about traditional birth attendants that there are more dangers to train them to deliver babies at home,” he said.
Dr. Collins Tisingwire, the acting commissioner of reproductive health in the ministry of health Uganda observed that the ministry conducted a survey and discovered that in the whole country, 10% of deliveries were done by TBAs while the majority of newborns are delivered in healthcare facilities.
Tusingwire urged fellow experts to encourage pregnant mothers to deliver in health facilities.
But he made it clear that the conditions of these health facilities must be improved.
An expert from Mauritius informed fellow experts that her country doesn’t have TBAs – that all deliveries are done in health facilities.
Health experts disagree over training of TBAs