Incorporating traditional birth attendants into the mainstream maternal health system in Nigeria - An evaluation of the Ondo State Agbebiye program

Lawal Oyeneyin, Olugbenga Osunmakinwa, Yetunde Olagbuji


Historically, the roles of traditional birth attendants (TBAs) in maternity care have been contentious. In 2014, Ondo state in response to an 80% proportion of TBA-related maternal deaths launched the Agbebiye program to incorporate TBAs. This study which aimed to evaluate the program involved a retrospective review of maternity records between 2013 and 2016. The results showed that the seven-month pilot phase in the state capital witnessed a reduction in TBA-related deaths when compared to the previous year. Overall, 5,606 TBAs were coopted with resultant 14,124 referrals out of 142,206 facility deliveries (9.9% referral rate). Additionally, there was a 61.8% increase in facility births from 33,077 in 2013 to 53,531 in 2016. During program implementation, there were seven maternal deaths linked to Agbebiye-registered TBAs out of 260 statewide facility deaths (2.7%). Our study confirms the positive role that TBAs’ incorporation into the maternal healthcare system can play in reducing maternal deaths in low-resource countries. (Afr J Reprod Health 2021; 25[4]: 82-88).

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