relief

KDHW: Making Pregnancy and Childbirth Safer in Burma / Myanmar's Conflict Zones

MAE SOT, 17 October 2011 (IRIN) - In conflict-afflicted eastern Myanmar, until recently obstetric care was often crude, unsterile and dangerous for both mother and child, health experts say.

When labour pains began, traditional birth attendants routinely pushed the woman's stomach, sometimes injuring or killing the baby; others used sharp slivers of bamboo, which had been cleaned with charcoal, to cut the umbilical cord, leading to deadly infections.

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.

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.

PUBLIC HEALTH EDUCATION

“In my village in Pa’an district, there aren’t any nurses or clinics. Women can’t access healthcare and some die after delivery. Most children are very thin and suffer low weight because they have no food; they eat boiled rice water. When I become a public health worker, I will go back and work for my village.” 
— Public Health Institute Student

"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.

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.

Thai-Myanmar Border: Malaria Epidemic Averted

The Thai-Myanmar border is often described as an "epicenter" of drug-resistant malaria. Malaria prevalence (the proportion of the population with the disease at any time) among internally displaced people in eastern Myanmar is up to twenty times higher than across the border in Thailand.

HEALTH

Safe births, children who have essential immunizations and enough to eat, prevention and treatment of infectious disease, community health education — these are the foundations for healthy, vigorous communities.

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$40 treats one severely malnourished child in a therapeutic feeding program. In villages in eastern Myanmar, one-third of all children are malnourished.

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