Improving health and nutrition in Myanmar

Conflict and other barriers in Myanmar are making health care in the Kayin (Karen) region very difficult. In response to the long-standing conflicts and in support of peace efforts, the infant health care project is the first project to support the implementation of the health system.

In the Kawkareik district of the Kayin region (Karen) we are implementing a project for primary health care for the population in over 190 villages. The aim of the project is to give disadvantaged population groups from rural areas access to basic health care and nutrition. In particular, the goal is to improve mother-child health.

A major component of the project is to raise the population’s awareness of health issues and prevention; they are actively involved in improving the health system and are included in the health reform. Both government-controlled villages and villages run by ethnic groups are part of the project.

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Goal 1 In the rural areas of the target communities in south-eastern Myanmar, equitable provision of quality basic health and nutrition services will be improved.

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Goal 2 Communities are empowered to improve health status and governance.

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Goal 3 Health systems in southeastern Myanmar will be coordinated and strengthened.

Trained health workers in the communities

A health worker trained by Save the Children measures a child's upper arm circumference to determine the degree of malnutrition.

Baseline

Since Myanmar gained its independence from the former colonial power Great Britain shortly after the Second World War, independence struggles in the Kayin (Karen) region on the country's eastern border have continued until today. Various ethnic groups, including the Kayin people, are striving for independence, which intensifies the conflict.

Myanmar is still undergoing change. The new government has taken the lead in nation-building, but still faces many challenges in all states that remain in conflict or unstable situations.

The continuing conflict is also making it very difficult to provide health services in the Kayin (Karen) region. Despite some progress, infrastructure still often is inadequate, there are limitations to provide supplies and staff requires further capacity building investment and the Myanmar Ministry of Health has limited access to contested areas. As a result, over a third of children die before their fifth birthday. We have therefore established the first project to support the implementation of the health system to improve the health situation of young children in this region.

If health is a bridge to peace, then this project is the engineer!

A benificiary of the project

Implementation

Since the start of the project in 2016, the focus has been on equipping all 43 health centres in the project region and training the health personnel. Topics included mother-child care and emergency care at birth.

One of the greatest successes of the project is that we work in both pro-government and opposition communities: All actors work together, exchange information and create space for cooperation.

By strengthening health systems on an equal footing and strengthening the community, health care is improved. In the first phase of the project, three results were worked towards: An improvement in both the supply and demand of the health system and an enabling environment.

This approach continues in the second phase, with a stronger focus on technical areas to improve service delivery. This holistic approach has the potential to strengthen local health policies so that target communities can realize their right to health, have access to information and be able to provide constructive feedback on health services.

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160'000 people we reach on average month with the health services in the project - including in particular pregnant women and children under five.

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