After a generation of partial neglect, renewed attention is being paid to population and voluntary family planning. Realistic access to family planning is a prerequisite for women's autonomy. For the individual, family, society, and our fragile planet, family planning has great power.
For many developing countries, investments in health have proved a great success. The LancetCommission “Global health 2035: a world converging within a generation”1 and the 2014 Gates annual letter2 envision the possibility of a “grand convergence” by which more countries will have a child mortality rate as low as 15 per 1000 livebirths in 20 years time. We wish to draw attention to the special case of the least developed countries, which on present evidence are likely to be excluded from such a convergence.
A consensus emerged in the late 1990s among leaders in global maternal health that traditional birth attendants (TBAs) should no longer be trained in delivery skills and should instead be trained as promoters of facility-based care. Many TBAs continue to be trained in places where home deliveries are the norm and the potential impacts of this training are important to understand. The primary objective of this study was to gain a more nuanced understanding of the full impact of training TBAs to use misoprostol and a blood measurement tool (mat) for the prevention of postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) at home deliveries through the perspective of those involved in the project. This qualitative study, conducted between July 2009 and July 2010 in Bangladesh, was nested within larger operations research, testing the feasibility and acceptability of scaling up community-based provision of misoprostol and a blood measurement tool for prevention of PPH. A total of 87 in-depth interviews (IDIs) were conducted with TBAs, community health workers (CHWs), managers, and government-employed family welfare visitors (FWVs) at three time points during the study. Computer-assisted thematic data analysis was conducted using ATLAS.ti (version 5.2). Four primary themes emerged during the data analysis, which all highlight changes that occurred following the training. The first theme describes the perceived direct changes linked to the two new interventions. The following three themes describe the indirect changes that interviewees perceived: strengthened linkages between TBAs and the formal healthcare system; strengthened linkages between TBAs and the communities they serve; and improved quality of services/service utilization. The data indicate that training TBAs and CHW supervisors resulted in perceived broader and more nuanced changes than simply improvements in TBAs’ knowledge, attitudes, and practices. Acknowledgeing TBAs’ important role in the community and in home deliveries and integrating them into the formal healthcare system has the potential to result in changes similar to those seen in this study.