Jakarta (ANTARA) - Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said that his ministry will expand the role of midwives to the village level to reduce maternal and infant mortality.

"Our current health center services are still at the sub-district level. For next year, I have planned to expand health services to the village level amounting to 85 thousand villages to reduce maternal and infant mortality," he informed at the 17th Congress of the Indonesian Midwives Association (IBI) here on Friday.

According to the minister, the expansion of the midwives' role to the village level is aimed at ensuring the availability of health personnel, namely one midwife and one nurse at each community health center (puskesmas).

"If this midwife service could reach the villages, the maternal mortality rate (MMR) and infant mortality rate (IMR) could decrease. Currently, our MMR is still around 160 per 100 thousand births, still very far compared to developed countries, where it is already 10 per 100 thousand births," the minister highlighted.

Meanwhile, based on data from Statistics Indonesia (BPS), Indonesia's infant mortality rate was recorded at 16.9 per 1 thousand live births in 2022, he added.

Sadikin said he hopes that with the expansion of health and midwives' services to the village level, IBI will help improve the quality and capacity of their midwives to reduce MMR and IMR.

"We must continue to collaborate and improve the skills and competence of midwives. We must be able to monitor and record which villages have decreased MMR cases," he added.

By opening puskesmas at the village level, the minister is targeting to bring down MMR to 50.

"Currently, there are still around 20 thousand villages that do not yet have supporting health centers, so we will speed this up," he added.

According to Sadikin, the move to increase the capacity of midwives and expand puskesmas is in accordance with the directive of President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) regarding easy access to puskesmas that offer services of good quality and at affordable prices.

Meanwhile, the newly inaugurated chair of IBI for the 2023–2028 term, Ade Jubaedah, said that IBI must strengthen the organization and its midwives to maintain the dignity of their profession.

"With the strength of this organization, we will become stronger. So, please maintain the dignity of this profession and develop our potential to serve and reach a wider community," she added.

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Translator: Lintang Budiyanti P, Resinta Sulistiyandari
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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