Based on experience of a six-month training program for nearly thousand ethnic minority midwives in Tu Du Hospital, Ho Chi Minh city, in 2006, the Ministry of Health began to pilot the "Ethnic Minority Midwives" program. The program's underlying strategy was that health care workers who understand the patients' language and belief system can inspire trust and encourage more women to receive appropriate services.
Ethnic women received an 18 month training on safe motherhood, newborn care, and primary health care. At the completion of the course, participants receive two certificates that qualify them to perform as village health workers and village-based skilled birth attendants.
According to the mandate, local authorities recruit and recognize these midwives as part of health care system. When practicing, they get support from the local government, including incentives (equal to those of current village health workers) and necessary equipments and facilities, such as, drugs, clean delivery packages and referral introduction. They also receive supportive supervision from local health staff and are involved in the regular meeting at commune health stations.
As of March 2010, 49 new ethnic midwives have completed the training course and another 30 ethnic midwives received refresh training and started to work at their local villages.
By the end of 2011, evaluations will assess the effectiveness of the intervention, the policy support as well as training program. Experience and lessons from this model will serve as the basis for the Ministry of Health to make decision on the adjustment and replication of the program to the whole country.