Midwife Dau Kin Thida, 32, has first-hand experience of the health challenges that face pregnant women and mothers in the Sagaing region of Myanmar. She has worked as a midwife at her local health centre in King village for 18 months.
When asked why she chose her profession, Dau Kin explains: “It was always my hobby, looking out for people who were in trouble or injured, and I know how valuable the health centre is for women within the area.
“We have clinics from Monday to Wednesday, and Tuesday is for pregnant women. There will be 40 pregnant women with 11 from outside the village.”
Clinic staff are receiving extensive health care training as part of the Red Cross programme, equipping them to advise and care for the women that drop into the health centre. The Red Cross is also working closely with the centre to improve access to pregnant women in more remote areas.
Dau Kin highlights the difficulty many women face in reaching the clinic in an emergency. “If a pregnant woman needed to deliver a child at the health centre in an emergency, transport is organised by a welfare committee near the health centre,” she says. “The Red Cross will work with these committees on the project.”
Water and sanitation
Dau Kin says: “One of the main obstacles in providing good health care for families and their newborn babies is access to clean water. There is a well in the village but the water it produces is yellow and has a bad taste. People prefer rainwater or settled water taken from the river.”
However, the water collected in jars is then left out, leaving it at risk of contact with mosquito larvae, which mature to transmit dengue fever. One of Dau Kin’s responsibilities is to advise families on cleaning out larvae from the water. As part of its programme, the Red Cross is investigating protection for household water collection jars to reduce the need for regular inspection.
The Red Cross is also establishing 40 water management groups and constructing 40 water systems to improve sanitation in remote areas. The programme will establish and train sanitation committees through local volunteers, to educate households on sanitation issues and make a lasting difference.