Health

OUR GOAL is to improve access to public health and primary medical care in Chin state.

Health indicators in Chin State continue to be among the worst in Myanmar. The primary cause of death is from infectious diseases including pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria – most of which are preventable and treatable. Medicines are scarce and expensive and despite there being numerous health facilities, many are empty and all are understaffed.  Due to the distance between villages and towns, patients only travel to a hospital when their deteriorating health conditions are at their worst, with some arriving too late. 

Since 2008, HHM have trained 834 Community Health Workers (CHWs) and 166 Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) to develop a community-led response to health challenges across the region. This network of volunteer health workers is spread over 551 partner villages.

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Summary

This project provides training in life-saving midwifery skills to 45 Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs), and maternal & neonatal training to 75 Community Health Workers (CHWs) in remote villages in western Myanmar.  TBAs and CHWs promote simple health interventions right at the point where they are most needed. This project supports their work to radically reverse the high levels of maternal and under-5 morbidity and mortality rates that devastate families across the region.

Challenge

Most villagers in rural Myanmar live a three-four days' walk from a health facility, making pregnancy and childbirth dangerous. In Western Myanmar, only one in two pregnant women will be seen by a trained healthcare working and only 6% of babies are born in a health facility.

Superstitions surrounding childbirth, combined with poor practices and lack of education, have resulted in an under-5 mortality rate which is double that of the rest of the country.

Solution

We provide training to:

  • Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs)
  • older women who hold status within their communities
  • Community Health Workers (CHWs), who have been selected by village leaders and have previously attended our 6-month training programme

TBAs and CHWs are available 24/7 in each village. Working hand in hand, they are able to address the vast majority of health needs through education and implementing preventative practices. TBAs also provide care for women throughout pregnancy and labour.

The project started in 2013 and has, to date, equipped 166 local women with skills to support mothers and babies throughout pregnancy, birth and early infancy. To ensure the expansion and sustainability of this project, a ‘Train the Trainer’ initiative was piloted in 2018, assisted by a wonderful team of UK-based midwives. They have now equipped eight indigenous health workers with the skills to pass on their own midwifery knowledge to new trainees. 'Train the Trainer' is continuing this year: we aim to have a further eight local trainers who will each train at least five TBA’s in more remote villages.