4 February 2013
A new Red Cross programme in Myanmar is improving health services for mothers and children in 75 remote communities.
The cost of antenatal and postnatal care, and limited access to services, has a huge impact on the infant mortality rate, which is over 70 per 1,000 births and is one of the worst in south-east Asia.
The Myanmar Red Cross programme, which is supported by the British Red Cross, is focused on improving access to health services, training health care professionals and improving awareness of common, preventable diseases.
Limited access to health care
Gregory Rose, British Red Cross health adviser, said: “Following discussions with women in remote parts of Sagaing, access to health care was identified as the most common challenge.
“Women often have to travel by boat to deliver in a health facility, or walk to the next village for treatment for their children.”
In response, the Red Cross is training up to 90 midwives and birth attendants in local areas. This will make it easier for women to physically reach the care they need, while removing the cultural and language barriers faced by mothers from different regions.
Spreading the word
Another issue is access to clean water, which is difficult in many areas. Unprotected river water is often the only option, causing sickness in children. As part of the project, the Red Cross is improving conditions in more remote regions, by constructing water systems and building latrines.
Greg said: “In the communities where we are working, women say they struggle to access health care, which is made more difficult when they are faced with poor sanitary conditions.
“So the team is also working hard to raise awareness of simple health practices within communities, including the importance of breastfeeding. This will equip communities with the knowledge to sustain good health care practices which can be passed on to future generations.”
Find out more about the health programme in Myanmar