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Birthing practices of traditional birth attendants in south Asia in the context of training programmes

Saravanan, Sheela, Turrell, Gavin, Johnson, Helen, & Fraser, Jenny (2010) Birthing practices of traditional birth attendants in south Asia in the context of training programmes. Journal of Health Management, 12(2), p. 93.

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Abstract

Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA) training has been an important component of public health policy interventions to improve maternal and child health in developing countries since the 1970s. More recently, since the 1990s, the TBA training strategy has been increasingly seen as irrelevant, ineffective or, on the whole, a failure due to evidence that the maternal mortality rate (MMR) in developing countries had not reduced. Although, worldwide data show that, by choice or out of necessity, 47 percent of births in the developing world are assisted by TBAs and/or family members, funding for TBA training has been reduced and moved to providing skilled birth attendants for all births. Any shift in policy needs to be supported by appropriate evidence on TBA roles in providing maternal and infant health care service and effectiveness of the training programmes. This article reviews literature on the characteristics and role of TBAs in South Asia with an emphasis on India. The aim was to assess the contribution of TBAs in providing maternal and infant health care service at different stages of pregnancy and after-delivery and birthing practices adopted in home births. The review of role revealed that apart from TBAs, there are various other people in the community also involved in making decisions about the welfare and health of the birthing mother and new born baby. However, TBAs have changing, localised but nonetheless significant roles in delivery, postnatal and infant care in India. Certain traditional birthing practices such as bathing babies immediately after birth, not weighing babies after birth and not feeding with colostrum are adopted in home births as well as health institutions in India. There is therefore a thin precarious balance between the application of biomedical and traditional knowledge. Customary rituals and perceptions essentially affect practices in home and institutional births and hence training of TBAs need to be implemented in conjunction with community awareness programmes.

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3 citations in Scopus
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ID Code: 35766
Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: birthing practices , traditional birth attendants, South Asia , training programmes, maternal and child health , infant, birthing mother
DOI: 10.1177/097206341001200201
ISSN: 0972-0634
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2010 SAGE Publications
Deposited On: 23 Sep 2010 11:37
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2011 00:10

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