The re-emergence of community-based health workers such as the auxiliary midwives (AMWs) in Myanmar, who are local female volunteers, has been an important strategy to address global health workforce shortages. The Myanmar government recommends one AMW for every village. The aim of this study is to investigate the current knowledge of critical danger signs and practices for safe childbirth and immediate newborn care of AMWs to inform potential task shifting of additional healthcare responsibilities.
A cross-sectional survey was conducted from July 2015 to June 2016 in three hard-to-reach areas in Myanmar. Face-to-face interviews were conducted using a pretested questionnaire.
Among 262 AMWs participating in the study, only 8% of AMWs were able to identify at least 80% of 20 critical danger signs. Factors associated with greater knowledge of critical danger signs included older age over 35 years (adjusted OR (AOR) 2.19, 95% CI 0.99 to 4.83), having received refresher training within the last year (AOR 2.20, 95% CI 1.21 to 4.01) and receiving adequate supervision (AOR 5.04, 95% CI 2.74 to 9.29). Those who employed all six safe childbirth and immediate newborn care practices were more likely to report greater knowledge of danger signs (AOR 2.81, 95% CI 1.50 to 5.26), adequate work supervision (AOR 3.18 95% CI 1.62 to 6.24) and less education (AOR 0.44, 95% CI 0.23 to 0.88).
The low level of knowledge of critical danger signs and reported practices for safe childbirth identified suggest that an evaluation of the current AMW training and supervision programme needs to be revisited to ensure that existing practices, including recognition of danger signs, meet quality care standards before new interventions are introduced or new responsibilities given to AMWs.
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The Burnet Institute is supported by funding from the Victorian
Operational Infrastructure Support Program and National Health and Medical
Research Council (NHMRC) Independent Research Institute Infrastructure Support
Scheme. James G Beeson (JGB) and Stanley Luchters (SL) were supported by
NHMRC fellowships. Kyu Kyu Than (KKT) was supported by an Australian Award
Scholarship of the Australian Government. Minh Duc Pham (MDP) was supported by
an International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS) from the Commonwealth
of Australia and a Victorian International Research Scholarship (VIRS) from State
Government of Victoria, Australia.