Men Savong is a 70-year-old former Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA). She is from Chiphat village in the south-west of Cambodia, a region where access to health services is particularly difficult and costly.
Now she and her husband live in a small house working as farmers.
For many years Savong helped women in her village to deliver their babies: “I learnt it by myself,” she recalled. “One day I was asked to help with a delivery. At that moment there were no midwives or doctors around, I became a one of the main people to help deliver babies."
But her experience wasn’t easy. Sometimes babies didn’t come in the right position or when she arrived women had already suffered intense bleeding. “I did everything I could at that time and I’m proud to say that no baby or woman died with me.” Unfortunately, not all the TBAs working in the region can say the same.
For 3 years, as part of the 20% Reinvestment Initiative, GSK and CARE Cambodia have focused their work on improving health workers’ knowledge and skills to reduce maternal mortality in Sre Ambel. The initiative supported 12 Health Centres, including the one located in Chiphat, where Savong now sends pregnant women who ask her for advice.
“The doctor has advanced medical tools and medicine to relieve pain. Previously, I had no equipment or tools to deliver,” she says.
During the last year, Savong has sent over 10 women to the Chiphat Health Centre to receive basic health checks, vaccinations, contraception and health and nutrition advice.
The GSK-CARE Cambodia partnership has supported more that 29,000 community members in Sre Ambel, receiving health education from 133 Village Health Support Group members. “I will not deliver women’s babies at home again because now I know it is illegal and dangerous. They should deliver at the Health Centre where doctors and qualified midwives know what to do.”