Remote Myanmar delta communities receive life-saving medical care

Posted: 
02/21/14

Myanmar - When it comes to health care, isolated communities living in the Ayeyarwaddy Delta face constant obstacles to receiving potentially life-saving treatment.

Thanks to a three-year project extension funded through the Three Millennium Development Goal Fund (3MDG), IOM will be able to continue to support maternal, new born and child health services in the delta, covering a population of around 690,000 across Bogale and Mawlamyinegyun Townships.

The two townships were among the worst hit areas when Cyclone Nargis tore through the region in 2008, claiming an estimated 140,000 lives and affecting 2.4 million people.

A number of factors present a challenge to Ayeyarwaddy Delta residents in need of access to health care. The geography of the region means that transport is only possible by boat, which is expensive and slow. Communities are poor, vulnerable to natural disasters, and often live cut-off from electricity and modern communications.

The delta is also home to large numbers of seasonal migrants who work in the paddy fields as well as itinerant ‘boat families’. These ‘hidden’ populations are often those most lacking in adequate health care services.

IOM will work with health departments in the two townships to strengthen community based systems for the delivery of quality maternal, neonatal and child health care, including facilitating training for health workers, revitalizing village health committees, establishing effective referral mechanisms and procuring supplies and equipment for rural health centres. A particular focus will be on developing methods for reaching mobile and hard-to-reach populations.

“Migrant women and children are an important hard-to-reach group in my township. We mostly miss them. By partnering with IOM and 3MDG we are finding workable solutions,” said Dr. Aye Aung, Medical Superintendent of Mawlamyinegyun Township Hospital, during a meeting with IOM.

IOM has been working in partnership with the local health authorities in the delta since the immediate aftermath of Cyclone Nargis. In 2010, IOM began to implement the Joint Initiative for Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health (JI-MNCH) in Bogale, a collaborative programme that seeks to increase access to essential maternal and child health services amongst hard-to-reach populations in the areas that were most affected by the cyclone.

See our photo story on community health outreach in the delta at: http://www.iom.int/cms/en/sites/iom/home/news-and-views/photo-stories/photo-story-listing/supporting-maternal-and-child-he.html

For more information, please contact

Kieran Gorman-Best
IOM Myanmar
Tel: +95 1 210588
Email: kgormanbest@iom.int