In Myanmar, the maternal mortality rate is the second highest in Southeast Asia.
And the remote and mountainous Chin State is one of the least developed and poorest regions of the country.
In Kheng village in the rural south of Chin State, the nearest public hospital is 30 miles (45 km) away, in the town of Mindat. But the bus to Mindat leaves just once a week, and the journey can take a full day on foot.
A rented motorbike, at $25, is much more than most people can afford. But now a midwife is using one to visit the area’s most remote villages, to help expectant mothers deliver their babies safely.
Midwife Daw Naing Ngai Awi graduated from the Central Midwifery School in Yangon in 2010. She was soon transferred to Ohm village, in rural Chin State. The village’s small primary healthcare centre there serves four surrounding villages, including Kheng.
She provides ante-natal and post-natal care, as well as vaccinations to mothers and children. She conducts regular visits by motorbike to the four surrounding villages. During these visits, she looks out for mothers or children who may require emergency referrals to Mindat hospital.
When Daw Mana Kee Pai was pregnant with her fifth child she experienced serious complications. She was rushed to hospital facilitated by an emergency referral when the delivery started to go wrong. Despite visiting family planning services when she returned home, and having an IUD inserted, she fell pregnant again. Daw Mana Kee Pai and her husband had not hoped to have more children and were scared and worried for Daw Mana Kee Pai’s safety.
As her previous pregnancy was so difficult, Daw Mana Kee Pai had no choice but to give birth in hospital with her sixth child. She had regular ante-natal check-ups with the midwife, and when it was time to go to the hospital, had a referral.
Three weeks after a C-section, both mother and baby are healthy and ready to head home.
Now back at home, Daw Mana Kee Pai’s five other children welcome her and their new sibling.
Midwife Daw Naing Ngai Awi visits the family for routine post-natal care. She weighs the baby and shares information with the parents about breastfeeding and nutrition.
After a tiring and worrisome pregnancy, the family can now rest knowing mother and baby are both in good health.
“Whenever I save the lives of mothers and babies, I am very happy. I can’t express my feelings in words,” says midwife Daw Naing Ngai Awi.
(Photos taken by: John Rae/UNOPS)
The 3MDG Fund (the Three Millennium Development Goal Fund) is financed by donations from Australia, Denmark, the European Union, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. It has supported emergency referrals for mothers and young children in Myanmar since 2013.
For more information about The 3MDG Fund follow this link:
For more information about UNOPS follow this link: www.unops.org