News

UNFPA supports Myanmar midwives in continuing maternal health services and in combating COVID-19 pandemic

5 May 2020
Maternal Health Knowledge Awareness Session provided by Midwife in Yangon. Photo © YRHD Yangon

Yangon, Myanmar – “When the people see a midwife on duty (wearing white and red uniform) in our village, they see her as a angel coming to protect us. She is here with us to improve our health to access basic health care services including maternal health and safe delivery. Midwives are treasures of our local communities. I couldn’t imagine the life without the midwife in the rural areas,” said Daw San San, 45 year, a local woman from Bago region.

In the wake of COVID-19 outbreak, midwives not only play a critical role in ensuring safe pregnancy and childbirth but also play a key role in community awareness raising on COVID-19 prevention. Daw Hnin Yi Win, Senior Midwife from Kyar Inn (West) Rural Health Center in Hlegu Township, Yangon said, “During their antenatal care and post-natal care at the health facility, we educate pregnant women with the important knowledge of how to protect from the infection of virus such as personal hygiene and social distancing; When they know, their family members know. The more the people know, the better it will be for the country in prevention of COVID-19”. She added, “We go to every populated area within the township such as streets, markets and bus-stops and share COVID-19 related awareness knowledge by hand speaker.” During the virus outbreak, it is very risky for them to do the community awareness moving around one place from another. She added, “Whatever challenges we have, I am proud to be a health worker supporting people in need including vulnerable group such as women and girls in the time of emergency.”

Midwives in Yangon providing COVID-19 community awareness Photo © YRHD Yangon
Midwives providing COVID-19 community
awareness raising in Yangon. 

Myanmar is scaling up COVID-19 prevention and response in its states and regions where tens of thousands of migrant workers are in the process of returning to the country. Myanmar has 161 positive cases confirmed by the Ministry of Health and Sports (MoHS), as of 4 May 2020. As the confirmed cases increase, Myanmar health workers and volunteers are fighting at the frontlines of prevention, control and treatment of COVID-19 virus. It was reported that some health workers were infected by the virus during their medical treatment to positive patients. Therefore, in order to win this fight, it is really important to protect the health workers from COVID-19 so that they can continue providing life-saving services to Myanmar people every day.

To end preventable maternal death under three transformative goals, UNFPA advocates and works for strengthening the national midwifery services, through support to the government on policy development and midwifery workforce planning; and developing bridging course curriculum for Bachelor Degree for Midwives in order to upscale the capacity of midwife in Myanmar.

As part of the COVID- 19 response, UNFPA delivered 1,500 sets of PPE for the State Health Departments from Kachin, Northern, Shan, Rakhine, Mon and Kayin States during April 2020 with the support of Women and Girls First Programme and Access to Health. Additionally, in collaboration with Department of Public Health, MoHS, UNFPA plans to provide 5000 PPE Kits for Midwives across the country.  3000 PPE kits are being procured for the distribution in Mon, Kayin and Bago Region in the 2nd Week of May. Each kit includes surgical masks, examination gloves, N-95 mask, disposable gown, coverall disposable (PPE Suit), face shield, hand sanitizers.

 


Midwife testing temperature of a pregnant
woman beore providing antenatal care. 

According to 2018 data from MoHS, there are more than 13,000 midwives working for the public sector in Myanmar and over 900  midwives are working in Yangon Region where the largest number of COVID-19 positive cases are identified. Along with their fellow health workers including doctors and nurses, midwives are supporting the country’s COVID-19 response effectively. “Our midwives are dedicated and talented. They are working at multiple frontlines in COVID-19 response; maternal health and delivery, arrival health check-up at the country’s entrances and gates, community awareness raising and support to facility quarantine and local fever clinics.” Daw Win Sein, Nursing Officer from Yangon Region Public Health Department said.

“It is apparent that the work of midwife is connected to every segment of one’s life from birth to death. Their dedication is central to  ensuring reproductive health and rights of women and girls under any circumstances or emergency,” Nursing Officer Daw Win Sein added.