On National Midwives Day in Cambodia in early May, the president of the Cambodia Midwives Association saluted the nation’s nearly 7,000 publicly employed midwives – and encouraged them to register for e-learning courses on child and maternal health featured on a new national platform. The courses are the result of more than a year of intensive work on the part of multiple partners, including Alive & Thrive.
“The new e-learning course platform is a milestone for health training,” Ms. Hem Navy, President of Cambodia Midwives Council said. “It is particularly important because COVID-19 has limited training opportunities.”
Midwives make up the bulk of health service providers who have taken the courses since their launch in December. They work in health facilities across the country, in its big cities and smallest towns.
But training is a constant issue – and led to the development of a technical working group. Alive & Thrive participated along with other key partners, including UNFPA and the Clinton Health Access Initiative, ultimately providing support to the Government of Cambodia’s National Maternal and Child Health Center.
“We had a virtual meeting every week on this and sometimes several meetings per week,” said Chin Sedtha, Cambodia Program Manager for Alive & Thrive. “It was very intensive.”
But, she noted, also very important.
“Midwives are the main health providers for women and children in Cambodia,” she added. “They not only attend births and provide antenatal and postnatal care, but also provide routine health services like immunizations, growth monitoring and promotion, treatment of childhood illnesses, and many others.”
The partners had previously contributed to developing the government’s National Strategy for E-learning for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Cambodia, 2022-2026, which included the aim of strengthening its e-learning platform, particularly amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Measures implemented to prevent the spread of the disease led to a halt in in-person training activities.
Securing the buy-in of both the midwifery association and council has been critical, since both agencies have an important stake in the training of their members. While the Council oversees licensing and license renewal, the Association is a professional body responsible for providing opportunities for continuing education, professional development, and networking, among other things.
“Access to training is an important issue for midwives,” said Ms. Chhay Sveng Chea Ath, President of Cambodia Midwives Association. “We need to increase the capacity of midwives to ensure the best health service."
The launch of the e-learning platform in November was particularly important because it established the approach as viable. Prior to launch, the platform was piloted successfully with a variety of health workers who reported their overall satisfaction. Within a month of its launch, more than 400 midwives across the country had enrolled in the platform, which currently features five modules on reproductive, maternal, and child health.
The nutrition module is now being developed: Alive & Thrive is supporting training for a core group of health workers on the nutrition issues that will serve as its foundation.
“There is still a lot of work to do to ensure nutrition is a part of the platform,” Sedtha said. “The launch is an important achievement, and we must advocate for the government and development partners to see the platform develop positively over the next year.”