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Lao Midwives’ Association preparing the launch of a new helpline with UNFPA support

The Lao Midwives’ Association (LMA), with the support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), held a virtual workshop in late September with the Regional Representatives of the association to discuss and prepare the launch of a new helpline.

The helpline will target two groups: the first is pregnant women and lactating mothers and their families and communities and surroundings, while the second will be midwives.

They will be able to contact this helpline to get information and advice on pregnancy, breastfeeding, and midwifery peer support.

Ms. Phouthone Chanthalangsy, Vice President of LMA, welcomed the idea of establishing a helpline.

She explained “This is the preliminary training to prepare midwives for providing support to pregnant women and mothers via the helpline. It is crucial during COVID-19 that pregnant women and mothers can connect with midwives to seek advice and counseling. So, I am very pleased to see that LMA is using innovation to contribute to improving maternal health in Laos.”

The helpline aims to be a channel to provide peer support to practicing and midwifery students across the country. The association has employed a midwife full-time for the first time to support this activity, and it is an exciting step for them. For the LMA, this is an opportunity to grow their offer portfolio and increase their attractiveness to grow their membership base.

In the workshop, participants discussed the standard operating procedures (SOP) and how the helpline will provide a space for women to receive up-to-date and accurate information, including COVID-19 impacts on pregnancy and breastfeeding. They interacted through exercises and animated talks to identify the risks, train on the different possibilities of questions, respond, orient women to other services when necessary, and inform other midwives who might consult for critical cases they deal with.

“I learned new things I have never done before, and I had opportunities to exchange ideas with midwifery teachers and peers,” said Ms. Nyvanh Malaisone, Helpline staff who participated in the workshop.

Another participant, Ms. Lotchana, a member of LMA, said that she was excited to interact with midwifery teachers and students. She said, “I learned many tips from the simulated activities during the workshop.”

Given the current restrictions, midwives can still not meet in person, but this does not stop them from continuing their work and adapting to exchange and learn together. For example, LMA has been using online platforms for training for over a year to continue running workshops, training, and capacity-building sessions.

The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25) commitments in Lao PDR include clear objectives on the training, deployment, and the role of midwives to protect maternal health and sexual and reproductive health. UNFPA supports the Lao Government and local partners such as the LMA to upscale the capacities of midwives, their number, diversity, and expertise, including through innovation and strong partnerships with The Government of Luxembourg, KOFIH, Maternal Health Thematic Fund (MHTF), and UNFPA core funding.

Source: Lao News Agency