By: Rehema Namukose, Women Deliver
When a community has access to trained midwives, the health of women and their children will improve, creating healthier families and communities. However, 70 percent of Myanmar’s population that live in rural areas barely have access to basic health education and information about maternal and child health care services. Many have no knowledge about basic reproductive health services like birth spacing, pre-and post natal care, and safe delivery services, all of which can be provided by a skilled midwife.
The country’s health care system was ranked the second worst in the world by WHO in 2000, and that is why the government has been working ever since with many partners, including global civil society organizations, to make access to health care services a reality for all. A project intervention by Marie Stopes International Myanmar (MSIM) and Myanmar Nurse and Midwife Association (MNMA) is training young midwifery professionals known as Volunteer Midwives (VMWs) and placing them in villages in urgent need of health care services in the Ayeyarwaddy and Yangon regions of Myanmar.
MSIM is one of the leading service providers of sexual and reproductive health care services, and MNMA is the largest national body in Myanmar bringing together professional midwives and nurses. According to MSI, this project recruits midwifery graduates in three annual groups of 10, developing a network of 30 young professionals by the end of the project. These midwives are taken through a rigorous training exercise that involves comprehensive health care service delivery for 8 days, a 10 day training on safe motherhood in a MNMA maternity home, a clinical assignment for three months, and community placement that lasts 6-7 months.
This training equips midwives with knowledge and skills on universal health care service delivery on pre-and-post-natal care, family planning, infection prevention, detection and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, and clinical response to gender-based violence. These trainings also provide them with experience engaging directly with clients through clinics, mobile outreach visits, and community education activities. In partnership with the Ministry of Health of Myanmar, these midwives are placed in communities in dire need of health care to provide services to avail people, especially women, with reproductive health care and family planning services.
In a film produced by MSI, Aye Sadar Phyo, a midwife trained through the project, tells her story of serving seven Myanmar villages only accessible by boat. With knowledge and skills gained from the training, Sandar has been able to empower village women with information about family planning and other reproductive health issues, thus enabling them to make choices about if and when to have babies.
“ I really like my job,because I get to work directly with the people in the villages, helping women make their choices about contraception, which improves their health, and their children’s health,” says Sandar.
The project has not only enriched the midwifery training profession, but it has also enabled access to basic health care services as well as sexual and reproductive health services.
Photo via MSI