A Humanitarian Crisis
Maternal and child mortality rates in Myanmar remain some of the highest in South East Asia. It has been estimated that out of the around 916,000 live births in the country, 18,800 are stillbirths, while 8,500 infants die on the first day 1. The Myanmar Census report for 2014 estimated an infant mortality rate of 62 deaths per 1,000 live births and an under-five child mortality rate of 72 deaths per 1,000 live births. In terms of maternal mortality, leading causes of death include postpartum hemorrhages, prolonged and obstructed labour and infections - all complications which are preventable with access to quality healthcare.
In Kachin state, infant and under five mortality rates total at 53 and 61 per 1,000 live births respectively, according to the 2014 Census report. Additionally, a 2015 survey by Plan International confirmed a stunting rate (chronic malnutrition) of 37% and a 13.5% underweight rate.
A Viable Solution
(Maternity waiting homes are residential facilities, located near a qualified medical facility, where women defined as "high risk" can await their delivery and be transferred to a nearby medical facility shortly before delivery, or earlier should complications arise.
Many consider maternity waiting homes to be a key element of a strategy to "bridge the geographical gap" in obstetric care between rural areas, with poor access to equipped facilities, and urban areas where the services are available. As one component of a comprehensive package of essential obstetric services, maternity waiting homes may offer a low-cost way to bring women closer to needed obstetric care.)
Our Success in Central America Means Lives Saved
In the mission to save lives, the St. Francis Emmaus Center made a difference. With over 400 mothers and children passing through the center annually, the success of the initiative has been lauded by numerous government agencies, including the local hospital and health system and the national committee for indigenous affairs, we received remarkable news and a letter from the director of medicine in Turrialba, Costa Rica that St. Bryce Missions played a major part in the reduction of infant mortality in the indigenous reserve by 50%. We plan to use our model of pregnancy hostels in Myanmar and look forward to the same results.
Our plan is to collaborate with local Bishop Francis Daw Tang of the Diocese of Myitkina and open three maternity and medical hostels in the Kachin State . In Northern Myanmar, the hostels will be located near hospital facilities where mothers and children are offered housing, nutritional meals, and advocacy to ensure full comprehension and completion of medical requirements. In addition women are offered childbirth education and the accompaniment of a trained mid wife during labor and birth, support in initiating successful lactation, education and advocacy for early bonding, and increased recovery time before returning to their home long walking distances from access to medical care. The center will also function as a hostel for women and children who are in need of long term care or have children for long term stays in the hospital.