Daw Mana Kee Pai, a young woman from Chin State, had a difficult pregnancy in 2014. She needed to be transported urgently to the hospital, where she received an emergency caesarean section. “I have never felt such pain,” she says. “I was so lucky to have the villagers and volunteer midwife to help carry me up the hill.”
They had another piece of luck. The bus that normally comes weekly was at the top of the hill when they got there. Doctors at the hospital told her husband, U Gee Tung Mon, that they made it just in time.
For her husband, it was a tense time.
“The doctors told me that the baby’s condition was not good. I just hoped that in the worst case, if the baby could not survive, that my wife would get better. I kept praying while waiting in front of the operation room,” he says.
Thanks to the quick work, the mother and baby both survived.
When Daw Mana Kee Pai fell pregnant again, about a year later, the local midwife, Daw Naing Ngai Awi wasn’t taking any chances. She arranged an emergency referral for Daw Mana Kee Pai, so she could give birth in Mindat Hospital, which is about 30 kilometres away from her village, Kheng. The roads are dusty and uneven and without transport, it can take more than a day to walk.
Daw Mana Kee Pai travelled to the hospital before her due date to make sure she could give birth safely. The referral costs, which include transport and food for the mother and one attendant, and any extra medical costs, were financed by the Three Millennium Development Goal Fund (3MDG).
This is possible with the financial support of 3MDG’s donors – Australia, Denmark, European Union, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States – and the implementing partners, Danish Red Cross and Myanmar Red Cross Society.
3MDG is managed by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).
Myanmar suffers from high maternal and child mortality. At least 2,800 pregnant women and 70,000 children die each year, largely from preventable causes.
Together with the Myanmar government and other partners, the 3MDG Fund strengthens the national health system at all levels, extending access for poor and vulnerable populations to quality health services. The 3MDG Fund has a significant, timely and nationwide impact improving maternal, newborn and child health, combating HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and health system strengthening to deliver sustainable, efficient and responsive healthcare across Myanmar. The Fund provides substantial resources aligned with the Ministry of Health and Sport’s priorities and initiatives in support of these goals.
Such support proved vital to expectant mother Daw Mana Kee Pai.
After giving birth to a baby boy, the young mother stayed in the hospital for a few weeks until she was well enough to return back to their village. As she had a caesarean, she needed extra support and time to heal.
Daw Mana Kee Pai had a final check-up at Mindat Hospital before she returned back to her village.
She already has dreams for this new baby.
“I want to see all my children become government staff, maybe school teachers or doctors,” she says.
Many women live Daw Mana Kee Pai face challenges in Chin State and other remote parts of Myanmar where the health centre and hospital infrastructure is limited, particularly in villages in the hills where traveling to a health centre may involve hours, if not days, of walking.
Luckily, such is the medical support that local midwife, Daw Naing Ngai Awi came by motorbike from the sub-rural health centre in Ohm village, about six kilometres away, to visit Daw Mana Kee Pai’s family. She visits all new parents in Ohm and Kheng village to perform medical check-ups and share health information about nutrition, breastfeeding and caring for their baby.
Midwife Daw Naing Ngai Awi says she has been working at the sub-rural health centre in Ohm Village for about ten months.
“I was born in a city, but when I was young I visited a village and saw midwives providing immunization services. I saw how the village was so happy to see them when they came along in their uniform. Years later, when my brother suggested I become a midwife, I remembered that. Now, I just want to get better and better at helping people,” she says.
Mother Daw Mana Kee Pai is just one of millions of women in Myanmar who are benefiting from a slowly-improving health system, provided by the Myanmar government, the Three Millennium Development Goal Fund, and various donors including input from Australia, Denmark, European Union, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States.