Sexual and reproductive health

Draft Statement on Skilled Attendant at Birth

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
UNICEF/Ramoneda
13 February 2017

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.

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 maternalestimates@who.int

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Deadline for comments: 31 March 2017

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