Maternal and neonatal service delivery by traditional birth attendants in rural Benin: A case for integration?

Alexander Kaysin, Smisha Agarwal, Jacob Zannou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Republic of Benin faces high maternal, newborn and child (MNCH) morbidity and mortality. Traditional birth attendants (TBAs) continue to operate on the margins of the health system yet provide critical services to women and children. This study aims to further the understanding of TBA’s scope of practice for developing appropriate strategies to strengthen MNCH services at the community-level. TBAs were identified and surveyed on education, training, system support and scope of practice including management of obstetric and newborn emergencies. TBAs were found to perform diverse preventive and health promotion activities, including antenatal and newborn care counselling, promotion of family planning and immunizations. Among 109 TBAs, 11,102 births were documented in the prior year with a maternal mortality ratio (MMR) of 790/100,000 and neonatal mortality rate (NMR) 12.2/1000. The scope of TBA practices is broad and rural communities rely on this cadre for services. However, TBAs report higher rates of adverse maternal events compared to national statistics. Better understanding is needed on community preferences, training and methods of participation of TBAs within the health system. This could improve identification and referral for emergencies, reinforce safer practices and increase preventive and promotive health activities at the community level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1522-1536
Number of pages15
JournalGlobal public health
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2 2020


  • Maternal health
  • West Africa
  • child health
  • community health
  • traditional birth attendants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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