Traditional Birth Attendants in Samoa: Integration With the Formal Health System

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A traditional birth attendant (TBA) is a person who assists the mother during childbirth and who initially acquired her skills by delivering babies herself or through apprenticeship to other TBAs. In many parts of the world, TBAs continue to provide a significant proportion of maternity care during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. In Samoa, TBAs are recognized part of both the formal and informal health care system. The aim of this research was to examine the contribution that TBAs made in the provision of maternity care in Samoa. A descriptive study was undertaken, and 100 TBAs who had attended more than 400 births a year were interviewed as part of a broader Safe Motherhood Needs Assessment.

The findings highlighted that although TBAs can work in collaboration with individual health providers or facilities or be integrated into the health system, TBAs were often practicing autonomously within their communities, independent of collaborative links. This study showed that formal recognition and registration of TBAs would improve the recording of births and augment their partnership to the formal health care system. This formal registration process has since been implemented to improve monitoring and evaluation and assist future research with this important group.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2012

More about this publication?
  • The International Journal of Childbirth is a peer-reviewed, quarterly journal publishing original research, reviews, and case studies concerned with the practice of midwifery, women's health, prenatal care, and the birth process. The journal encourages the exploration of the complex and contextual issues surrounding childbirth provision and outcomes and invites manuscripts from a wide range of clinical, theoretical, political, methodological, psychological, public health, policy, and multicultural and interdisciplinary perspectives.
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