Sexual and reproductive health

Draft Statement on Skilled Attendant at Birth

13 February 2017

Midwives trainees go to the labour room after class at a district hospital in Pakistan
Midwives trainees go to the labour room after class at a district hospital in Pakistan

Online consultation

The Department of Reproductive Health and Research (RHR) invites comments on:

  • the draft statement and
  • the background paper related to the draft statement

Comments may be sent to

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The critical progress indicator, explicitly adopted by the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) and the Global Strategy for Women's, Children's and Adolescents' Health, 2016-2030 agendas is the “percentage of births delivered by skilled attendant at birth” (SAB).

In 2004, WHO/FIGO/ICM issued a joint statement that defined clearly SAB and its core functions. Actual practice at country level, however, is challenged by a lack of clear guidelines, standardization of names and functions, and task shifting. In addition, many countries have found that there is a large gap between the defined standards and the skill set/competence of existing birth attendants who are able to correctly manage common obstetric and neonatal complications.

Improved, simple and operational definitions and a meta-data analysis of various cadres of birth attendants (skilled and not so skilled) in each low- and middle-income country are urgently needed to support improved measurement of coverage of SAB. WHO, UNFPA and UNICEF have set up a taskforce to harmonize the definition and measurement of maternal health indicators, with special focus on SAB and in consultation with FIGO, ICM, ICN, and IPA.

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