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Transcending Borders for Women’s Health


On this International Women’s Day we are celebrating the successes of women we work with around the world. Both our staff and the communities they work alongside are working hard to promote and improve women’s health.

In the remote areas of Northern Myanmar, near the border with China, communities have minimal access to treatment, and limited help to address the social causes of their poor health – inadequate food, drinking water, and sanitation. The people most seriously affected by this are women and children.

In the Northeast area of Kachin state, we work with communities spread sparsely across a huge 3,100 square kilometre area. This area is mountainous, with an average altitude of 3000 metres near the border with China.

Many communities are inaccessible during the six month winter season, with roads covered in heavy snow from December to May. Even during the rest of the year journeys between the villages can take days by foot. Sometimes Health Poverty Action staff have to cross the border between Myanmar and China several times to reach their destination. Landslides and thick mud also slow journeys considerably, especially during the rainy season.

Health Poverty Action health workers trek in a range of difficult conditions to reach the communities they work with.

In such remote areas, healthcare can be difficult to access, and this makes pregnancy a particularly dangerous time for women. Ze Ram is a locally trained birth attendant from Kachin. She is being supported by Health Poverty Action to provide health care services to some of the most remote communities in the region.

Ze Ram

Ze Ram is relieved after ensuring the woman is doing well, and has no birth complications.

On this occasion Ze Ram is one of two birth attendants visiting a local woman about to go in to labour. Without them, this lady would have no medical assistance, and reaching hospital could take over a week.

At one thirty in the morning the lady begins her delivery. Ze Ram stays by her side the whole time encouraging the woman to push. After the successful delivery she remains by the Mother’s side throughout the night to ensure the mother and baby are both doing well.

Ze Ram sits with the Mother throughout the night to ensure her wellbeing.

This birth had no complications, but the support of Ze Ram and other birth attendants like her is crucial in helping women give birth safely in remote communities.

Just as important is the follow up care. Health Poverty Action is training health volunteers to teach families about maternal and newborn health. This knowledge helps to ensure the ongoing good health of newborn children and their mothers.

Health volunteer Yin Myaw visits a new mother to teach her about best practices in newborn health.

Last year, Health Poverty Action trained 670 traditional birth attendants to deliver babies safely and an additional 2,520 doctors, midwives, nurses and healthcare workers to improve the quality of care in the poorest communities.

If you are a healthcare worker (or even if you aren’t!) and want to support fellow health professionals around the world like Ze Ram and Yin Myaw, please support our As One campaign this March.

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