Abstract: Objectives: To describe the situation of midwifery education, regulation and association in six South Asian countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Pakistan.Methods: Data were collected via three questionnaires, constructed by the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Investing in Midwives Programme, used at a regional workshop in Bangladesh, 2010. Selected for the purpose of this study were 55 out of 134 questions of which two were open-ended. The answers from structured closed-ended questions were analyzed with descriptive statistics and the open ended answers with a qualitative content analysis.Results: There was a variation in midwifery education across South Asia, in terms of entry level, competencies and requirements for teachers. None of the countries had national legislation that recognized midwifery as an autonomous profession. Four of the countries had a midwifery association. Two countries had a curriculum based on ICM’s essential competences for basic midwifery practice. Main recommendations for improving formal midwifery education across the countries were development of legislation, strengthened formal midwifery education, strengthened professional value, and an improved learning environment.Conclusions: The findings might benefit the future midwifery profession in South Asia and is an important step in addressing the MDGs to reduce maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality in the region. With assistance, the area of South Asia will be able to create autonomous midwives that comply with ICM’s global standards for midwifery education and regulation.
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