Health

The Water Pipe Monk

For hundreds of displaced villagers relocated to arid lowlands in northern Burma, water pipes mean more than just water.

Thanks to the creativity of a local “Water Pipe Monk,” the resourcefulness of our  local partners and the cooperation of neighbors on the lush mountainside above, here’s what springs from a small irrigation project in Shan State: an expanded primary school attended by 106 children;  terraced farmland for essential crops; agricultural training for people living with HIV/AIDs.

CROSS-CUTTING INITIATIVES

Real life sprawls across categories. Tackling diarrheal diseases, for example, takes medicine, hygiene training, and toilets. A single project in isolation, even if it’s a good one, can’t by itself move a whole community forward. That’s why we work with our local partners to integrate health, education and community development.

Women and children in Burma: Healthy families = Healthy communities

Women in Burma are disproportionately responsible for raising children, caring for the sick, earning income and feeding their families, so having access to quality reproductive health services, including safe births and emergency obstetric care — even in the most isolated village — is key to building thriving communities. Together with our local partners, CPI focuses on improving screening, diagnosis, treatment and prevention services to address critical health concerns in Burma: maternal mortality, malaria, malnutrition.

It Takes a Village Health Worker: The key to healthy communities in eastern Burma / Myanmar

In a Karen village of chickens and woven-thatch homes is “Aunty,” a traditional woman with her hair in a bun. She teaches about hand washing, latrines and nutrition, and tests for and treats malaria. Aunty is chosen by the community, and she’s there to help 24/7.

Health Systems Strengthening

In eastern Myanmar, one in seven children die before they reach the age of five, and many of these deaths — due to diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria — are easily preventable. The challenge is to provide essential basic services to tens of thousands of villagers who have become nearly inaccessible due to civil conflict, displacement, and isolated and rugged terrain.

"No Backup Out There"

In the mountainous jungle of eastern Myanmar, a petite 24-year-old Karen woman peels back layers of white plastic and cloth wrapped around a stalk of sugar cane — a prop simulating bone, muscle and skin — before cutting it with a cable saw to practice amputation.

The exercise — part of a trauma skills workshop facilitated by CPI and our partner organization, the Karen Department of Health and Welfare  (KDHW) — is a stark reminder of the border region’s rampant malaria, malnutrition and conflict-related trauma, including one of the world’s highest rates of landmine injuries.

Trauma Care

There are no doctors or hospitals for eastern Myanmar’s half million displaced civilians, living in a region with one of the highest rates of landmine injuries in the world. Rapid access to trauma care is critical for landmine victims because of blood loss and severity of injury: approximately one in three survivors require amputation.

Eastern Myanmar: Measles Outbreak

It was a routine, sweltering mid-April day in a village for internally displaced people living just one kilometer from the Thailand-Myanmar border. Then a medic counted up five kids she had seen with coughs, pink eye and a red rash all over the body.

Were there more children with these symptoms in their village? Many, the medic was told, and she immediately suspected measles, a vaccine-preventable virus that is highly contagious and can spread quickly, especially where malnutrition is rife and healthcare services almost non-existent.

Child Health

A capsule of Vitamin A reduces blindness and a child’s chance of death by one-third. Deworming medication just twice a year combats malnutrition and improves a child’s cognitive capacities. Like immunizations, these are simple, effective and low cost interventions that greatly improve family and community health.

Saving Mothers' Lives

At midnight in the rugged jungle of eastern Myanmar, a village headman’s young daughter was in labor, lying on a mat in the small hut she shared with her husband. She was petite and anemic from malnutrition and a history of malaria. A traditional birth attendant, an older woman relying on experience and local remedies, was by her side. The baby finally emerged, a healthy squalling boy. But the placenta did not come out, and the situation quickly turned dire as the new mother began to bleed heavily.

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