Attention has focused recently on the importance of adequate and equitable provision of health personnel to raise levels of skilled attendance at delivery and thereby reduce maternal mortality. Indonesia has a village-based midwife programme that was intended to increase the rate of professional delivery care and redress the urban/rural imbalance in service provision by posting a trained midwife in every village in the country. We present findings on the distribution of midwifery provision in our study area: 10% of villages do not have a midwife but a nurse as a midwifery provider; there is a deficit in midwife density in remote villages compared with urban areas; those assigned to remote areas are less experienced; midwives manage few births and this may compromise their capacity to maintain professional skills; over 90% of non-hospital deliveries take place in the woman's (64%) or the midwife's (28%) home; three-quarters of midwives did not make regular use of the fee exemption scheme; midwives who live in their assigned village spend more days per month on clinical work there. We conclude that adequate provider density is an important factor in effective health care and that efforts should be made to redress the imbalance in provision, but that this can only contribute to reducing maternal mortality in the context of a supportive professional environment and timely access to emergency obstetric care.
Midwifery provision in two districts in Indonesia: how well are the rural villages served? Health Policy and Planning. doi:10.1093/heapol/czm036