Skilled Birth Attendants (SBA's) are the front line workers in a telehealth system catering to maternal health and childcare needs. Dealing patients on a one-to-one basis to provide the medical care of a very sensitive nature, these attendants are the backbone of sexual and reproductive healthcare system.

Realizing the need for the necessary capacity building and skill development in Sexual, Reproductive and Maternal Health (SRMH) domain, the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS) in collaboration with WHO, Pakistan, held the second round of virtual training on SRH tailored for SBA's. The first phase of the training had benefitted doctors from various telehealth clinics across Pakistan.

The present phase of the training was held in two batches of 5-days each, wherein twenty-six SBAs, including the Lady Health Visitors (LHVs) and Community Midwives (CMW's) from telehealth clinics of Punjab, Sindh, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan provinces learned new concepts and techniques in SRH along with a recap refresher of the older ones still in use. 

Professionals that imparted and coordinated training in this phase belonged to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (MoNHSR&C), Government of Pakistan – COMSATS’ partners for the training. Besides, experts and consultants from Health Services Academy Islamabad, Dow Medical College and Civil Hospital in Karachi, and COMSATS Telehealth Islamabad, also conducted the various sessions of the training.

Interactive lectures supported by visual aids and video demonstrations were given to the participants on topics which, included: effective ways for visual data collection and video interaction; pre-natal care with special considerations for COVID19 in pregnancy and when to refer; routine care in labor, delivery and post-partum care as per guidelines provided by WHO; significance of good mental health; effective postpartum stress management; adolescent health; and SRH self-care interventions.

Dr. Nirmini Hemachandra from WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean joined the closing ceremony from Egypt. Mentioning these trainings first of its kind initiative in the EMRO region, she appreciated the efforts of the organizers and congratulated participants on successful completion of the training.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Atiya Aabroo, Deputy Director (Programes) at MoNHSR&C, deemed scaling up of such trainings important so as to benefit relevant actors all across Pakistan. In her closing remarks, Technical Officer WHO, Ms. Ellen Thom, appreciated COMSATS and thanked Executive Director of COMSATS for supporting the activity. Representatives from participating organizations, Sehat Kahani and Human Development Foundation, also provided feedback and considered the training useful in upgrading participants’ knowledge and skills.  

The training also helped address existing misconceptions and taboos on SRH as SBA's are the first point of care from where such issues can be duly addressed.

Building on its competitive advantage of having an ISP, COMSATS is the pioneer in the field of Tele-health in Pakistan. Since its inception in 2001, COMSATS Tele-health has benefited around 70,000 patients in 17 rural areas across Pakistan, in specialties like Dermatology, Gynecology, Antenatal care, ultrasounds and outpatient care. It focuses on the importance of capacity building of Tele-medicine providers to improve their medical knowledge and clinical skills.