Posted on 4th February 2021 by Philippa Wilford
Our Community-Led Healthcare project is now in its third year, and over recent months the team have been working hard to develop and expand the programme.
They have produced some excellent health education resources and videos, which will be used and distributed in the community. The aim of these materials is to address some of the most important health needs villagers face by improving their understanding of general good health practices, with an emphasis on prevention and early detection. These resources will be a central focus for our outreach trips to the 21 target villages planned for this year.
In December the Health & Hope Health Team sent two medical teams into the first four villages. The objectives of this first outreach were to:
- Detail the package of care being offered to the village over the five outreach visits and introduce the project to the villagers;
- Support the Village Health and Social Welfare Committee (VHSWC) re-establish its vision, purpose and role within the community;
- Identify two Community Health Workers (CHWs) to train and establish in their role;
- Run health education programmes on key topics;
- Screen local community for vulnerable people such as those with non-communicable diseases or a disability.
Despite the nationwide restrictions in place due to COVID-19, the team were warmly welcomed by the villagers. The level of hospitality and the generosity shown was a humbling experience for the health team.
The community were fully engaged in every decision making activity, including the selection of CHWs, and keen participants of the health education activities. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the villagers were struggling with anxiety and fear when the health team arrived, but this was dramatically reduced during the teams visit. Individuals felt empowered to make changes that would improve their health and benefit not only themselves but others in their family and community too.
The villagers were overwhelmed that they had been chosen to receive such care and love though health education and other activities run by the team. This had never been done in their village before. The health education teaching was a huge success and the villagers were keen to practice their new found knowledge by making immediate changes. One such change was the establishing of designated waste bins in each of the villages to improve sanitation, waste management and protect their environment.
An elderly villager from Shar Oh village said: “No-one has ever come to stay with us to teach us about healthcare. No-one has ever cared for us enough to teach us how to look after our village health by keeping everywhere clean. We are going to be the cleanest village in Maraland.”
During each village outreach, the Health & Hope Medical Team ran a clinic to screen for non-communicable diseases and to address any immediate health needs. Medical supplies were brought from Hope Clinic in Lailenpi for use and distribution in the community.
The village children were also keen participants in the health education activities. The team had prepared a fun COVID-19 song and dance to be sung whilst washing their hands to encourage good hand hygiene. This proved to be an excellent way to engage them and encourage positive changes across all the ages groups.
Future plans for the project this year include five further outreach visits and two training workshops to be held in Lailenpi. Despite the current situation in Myanmar our work is continuing, although planned outreach visits have currently been put on hold until we can assess the situation and consider our best strategy for continuing to deliver services on the ground safely.
A collection of beneficiary stories from previous outreach visits can be found here.
Posted on 2nd February 2021 by Philippa Wilford
Health & Hope remains concerned about recent political developments in Myanmar.
Our in-country staff are currently safe and well, and will continue to deliver essential services to rural communities as planned after a short break to review security considerations. The safety of our staff is paramount to us, and as such we will continue to review the conditions to ensure we can work safely, whilst remaining responsive to the needs on the ground.
As a non-political organisation, we stand alongside the people of Myanmar in the hope that a peaceful resolution to the current situation will be found.
Having worked through periods of political uncertainty in the past, we remain resolute in our mission, and will continue to provide non-discriminatory humanitarian aid and development services to those in need.
Some have asked how you can support communities in light of recent events. We are continuing to assess the situation on the ground to identify any short-term needs as they develop. Giving a gift to our general fund will enable us to respond swiftly to these needs as they arise.
Especially at this time, we are so grateful for your continued support and partnership.
Posted on 25th January 2021 by Philippa Wilford
In December, 12 local women who had completed our Trainer of Trainers (ToTs) course delivered maternal and neonatal training into 12 remote villages in western Myanmar.
The ToTs were paired up based on their ability to speak the local language, and to encourage a good skill mix. Each ToT pair went to two villages to support training of local Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) as well as assist in educating the local community in key health topics. The ToTs also supported pregnant women and in some cases were in the right place at the right time to assist in deliveries alongside the TBA. Twenty four TBAs and an additional 72 local women received training and support on a range of topics from health in pregnancy and complications in birth, to breastfeeding and post-natal care.
One of the ToTs recounted her arrival in the village:
“The village welcomed us so warmly. We stayed for two days running a training workshop with both theory and practical sessions. The workshop went very well and the training was gratefully received. We taught about the importance of kangaroo care after delivery which is when the baby is put skin to skin with the mother immediately after birth. We taught the TBAs the importance of waiting for the placenta to come out naturally and warned of the dangers of puling or pushing the placenta out which is common practice in the villages. We also explained the importance of putting the baby straight to the breast and ensuring that the first milk from the mother was not thrown away. The TBAs and local women who attended the workshop were very happy to learn about this and so keen to pass on their new knowledge and apply it to their work.
One night whilst we were there, there was a delivery and the TBA wanted to immediately apply all her new knowledge. Unfortunately the umbilical cord was very short and the TBA didn’t feel it was long enough to place the newborn on the mothers chest immediately. But I dried the baby, placed the baby in a warm blanket, cut the umbilical cord and then initiated kangaroo care by placing the baby skin to skin with the mother whilst waiting to deliver the placenta. The mother and her family were so delighted, thankful for our help and grateful for our encouragement and support for the TBA.”
This testimony reflects the incredible need for the ToTs to be physical present in the village to support the TBAs as they apply the skills and knowledge given to them during teaching workshops. Follow up visits and ongoing support are just as vital, not only for continued professional development, but also to ensure the TBAs are supported in a wide range of situations.
The example given in this testimony shows how even with classroom knowledge, every pregnancy is unique and every birth experience is different. Despite the challenges that may present, in many cases it is still possible to meet an excellent standard of practice. Initiating skin to skin (kangaroo care) and putting the baby to the breast for the first milk can still be achieved despite unexpected challenges if the TBA has a good understanding and is able to adapt their skills and problem solve by looking for alternative solutions.
Shortly after the outreach visit, the ToTs traveled to Lailenpi for a 3-day workshop with the Health & Hope medical team.
The workshop provided the ToTs with the opportunity to share birth stories, discuss the training delivered, reflect on best practices for working in a community setting and identify ways in which they can improve the service they offer. At the workshop, the ToTs also stocked up on essential supplies, such as clean delivery kits, gloves, soap, monitoring equipment, vitamins and pregnancy supplements.
Your support for this project is so important as it continues to equip local women with the skills to respond to the challenges of child birth within remote rural communities in the jungles of Myanmar. The knowledge and practice change as a result of this work has a radical impact on both the wider family as well as the new-born child, impacting health outcomes and saving lives.
Click here to find out more about the Maternal & Neonatal Health project and how you can support this work.