Women’s health needs persist in conflict-affected Kachin State

26 Janvier 2017
Author: UNFPA
“The mobile clinic doctor and midwife have given me the confidence to give birth in the hospital, rather than at home," Ei Ngae told UNFPA. © UNFPA/Yenny Gamming
“The mobile clinic doctor and midwife have given me the confidence to give birth in the hospital, rather than at home," Ei Ngae told UNFPA. © UNFPA/Yenny Gamming

WAINGMAW, Myanmar – When Dr. Kyaw Linn Htun arrived at Thar Ga Ya, a camp for displaced people, almost 20 women were already lined up to see him. The women had all been displaced from their homes when the armed conflict in Myanmar’s Kachin State reached their villages. And with fighting in Kachin intensifying in recent months, their hopes of returning are fading.

One of the first women in line was 19-year-old Ei Ngae. She was 15 when the war reached her village, Ta Bat Yan. With bullets flying around them, her mother took her hand and shouted, “Run, Ei Ngae! Run into the forest!”

She has not been home since.

“First, I put my life on hold, hoping we would return to our village soon. But as time went on, I realized my life must continue, even if I live in a camp,” Ei Ngae told UNFPA.

“I am married now.”

Dr. Kyaw and his mobile clinic give displaced women in Kachin access to maternal health care, contraceptives, gynaecological check-ups and other services. © UNFPA/Yenny Gamming

She is pregnant with her first child, and she has come to the mobile clinic for a check-up.

Unable to afford hygiene products

Together with a midwife and nurse, Dr. Kyaw operates one of two mobile clinics in the Waingmaw area, which includes 18 camps and 40 villages. The clinics are supported by UNFPA and run by the Myanmar Medical Association, serving a population of over 15,000 conflict-affected people.

A wide range of health care is offered, including reproductive health care. Family planning information and supplies are particularly needed, with many women facing limited access to these services. Antenatal, post-natal and newborn care are also essential. And if women cannot afford transportation to a nearby hospital, the mobile clinics help fund their visit.

The clinics also provide sanitation supplies to help camp residents maintain good health. “Poor personal hygiene spreads disease, and so good personal hygiene is a simple way to prevent illness and infection,” Dr. Kyaw said. “It is not always easy for people to maintain good personal hygiene in cramped and crude living conditions.”

Before the clinic opened, he invited camp residents to an information session about personal hygiene. “I try to show them ways to maintain basic cleanliness even in in their difficult situation,” he added.

Women have specific hygiene needs during pregnancy, childbirth and menstruation, but many cannot afford the sanitary products they need. The clinics provide materials including sanitary napkins, cloth wraps for newborns and clean delivery kits for homebirths.

True hopes

Then Dr. Kyaw began Ei Ngae’s antenatal check-up. He examined her belly and listened for a heartbeat.

Ei Ngae was apprehensive, but when Dr. Kyaw announced both she and the baby were healthy, she broke in to a smile – briefly.

She is wary of being too happy, she told UNFPA. She keeps her hopes small.

She hopes, for example, that she will be able to give birth in a hospital, as the doctor recommended. “I know now that this will be safer both for the baby and for me.”

Then she forgot herself and smiled again, revealing her bigger hopes: “I hope that I will return to my village one day. And I hope that my child will be an educated person. These are my true hopes.”

Population : 53.4 mil
Taux de fertilité
Ratio de mortalité maternelle
Taux de prévalence contraceptive
Population âgée de 10 à 24 ans
Inscription des jeunes en enseignement secondaire
Garçons 48%
Filles 49%