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Life Saving Skills course

This page provides an overview of the RCOG’s involvement in running Life Saving Skills courses, which offer emergency obstetric training in under-resourced areas.

Each year, more than 563,000 women worldwide die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth – that’s one woman every minute. Many more survive but suffer ill health and disability as a result of complications. At least 80% of all maternal results result from 5 complications that are well understood and can be readily treated using existing medical and surgical interventions that are relatively inexpensive:

  • Haemorrhage
  • Sepsis
  • Eclampsia
  • Complications of abortion
  • Obstructed labour

In addition, there are an estimated 4 million neonatal deaths each year, accounting for almost 40% of all deaths in children under 5 years of age. More than 75% of these deaths occur in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The health of the neonate is closely related to that of the mother, and the majority of deaths in the first month of life could also be prevented if interventions were in place to ensure good maternal health.

Life Saving Skills course

In 2006, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) and the RCOG developed a standardised 3-day ‘skills and drills’ training package in Life Saving Skills – Essential Obstetric Care, based on the World Health Organization (WHO) manual Integrated management for pregnancy and childbirth. The package was developed in collaboration with the WHO’s department for Making Pregnancy Safer and in collaboration with a wide, multidisciplinary group of experts (including midwives, obstetricians, paediatricians, public health specialists and anaesthetists) with extensive practical experience of maternal and newborn health in resource-poor settings, as well as educational methods.

Programme information

To reduce maternal mortality, it’s important that all women have access to maternal healthcare services, particularly skilled attendance at birth and timely access to essential (or emergency) obstetric care (EOC) when an obstetric complication occurs.

There are two levels of EOC: basic and comprehensive.

Basic essential obstetric care (BEOC):

  • Parenteral antibiotics
  • Parenteral oxytocics
  • Parenteral anticonvulsants
  • Manual removal of a retained placenta
  • Removal of retained products of conception by manual vacuum aspiration
  • Assisted vaginal surgery (vacuum extraction)
  • Resuscitation of the newborn (using bag and mask)

Comprehensive essential obstetric care (CEOC):

  • All 7 BEOC elements (see above)
  • Caesarean section
  • Blood transfusion
Download the LSS course flyer
Life Saving Skills – Essential Obstetric Care [PDF]

Download the programme for the RCOG–LSTM Life Saving Skills – Essential Obstetric Care course

Making it Happen programme

The Department for International Development (DFID) has awarded the LSTM Maternal and Newborn Health Unit c.£20 million for its Making it Happen programme, which sends experts from the north-western countries of the globe to some of the world’s poorest countries to support, monitor and evaluate health services to lead to better care for women.

Find out more about LSTM’s Making it Happen programme.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the LSS course, or need more information, please email the Maternal and Newborn Health Unit at LSTM.

Elsewhere on the site

Global health community
Find out about the work of our Fellows, Members and Trainees across the world, and how you can get involved
Support our work
Find out how you can help support the RCOG’s work to tackle maternal mortality and morbidity worldwide