To reduce the horrific maternal mortality figures that we have globally especially in resource poor countries, there was a global commitment to reduce maternal mortality by three-quarters by 2015 using 1990 as a baseline. To measure the achievement of this goal, two indicators: maternal mortality ratio and proportion of births attended by skilled attendance were selected. To ensure skilled attendance at birth for all women, the international community set a target of 80% by 2005, 85% by 2010 and 90% coverage by 2015. However, in 2008 only 65.7% of all women were attended to by a skilled attendant during pregnancy, childbirth and immediately postpartum globally with some countries having less than 20% coverage. With the global human resource crisis, achieving this target is challenging but possible. This paper provides a narrative review of the literature on the skilled birth attendance strategy identifying key challenges and lessons learnt.