By Nguyen Thi Cam, Health Programme Officer
A lot of ethnic minority pregnant women especially in the mountainous regions of Vietnam have opted for home delivery. In fact, given the hygienic and disadvantaged conditions, it causes a lot of dangers for the health of both mothers and babies.
There are many cases of serious infection and complication during the labour which have resulted maternal and newborn death. However the number of women goes for this option of delivery doesn’t drop.
There are many reasons for it.
Firstly it is their culture. Many ethnic minority groups still assume that pregnancy and the delivery are within of their personal and family’s issues. If a mother has a sign of complication during her labour, then she will seek for the support by her husband, her mother or other family members rather than a health worker or a midwife.
Secondly, it is difficult to have access to the health centre with proper facilities to provide treatment and care for mothers and newborns. Under Vietnamese government policy, a clinic is available for every commune; however, this clinic is located in the very centre while most of ethnic minority people live in remote village from which it takes them hours on mostly bumpy and slippery roads to get to the centre. Many people when asked to concern about the fees as well.
Finally, due to living isolated and remote, the ethnic minority mothers have little opportunity to have access to information and education, let alone the skilled midwives or health workers. Save the Children have been working to address the problems and to propose solutions for safety of mothers and babies.
(1) Improving the accessibility, availability as well as quality of health care service in remote and mountainous areas, including the provision of training courses on Behavior Change Communication not only for commune health staff, village health workers but also the leaders of villages and women unions;
(2) Strengthening and encouraging communication campaigns on maternal and newborn health for community people, particularly activities on home visits or community meetings;
(3) Establishing good and supportive environment for staffs who are working in the grassroots health system: good salary/stipend, regularly supportive supervision trips.