Health made accessible for the ethnic minorities in post-conflict affected and hard to reach area in Myanmar
This partner perspective comes from the Civil Society Engagement Mechanism. We're delighted to introduce a set of stories collected by the CSEM to show perspectives from civil society actors and civil society organizations all over the world to mark the first UN UHC Day and to demonstrate civil society commitment to work towards achieving UHC.
CSEM and partners seek to promote representativeness and equity on the road to UHC. The views expressed, however, belong solely to each blog author.
Myanmar continues to face significant challenges including access to health, especially for conflict affected and remote areas where mostly ethnic minorities live. Physical access is difficult, combined with the lack of trained health professionals and language barriers in the area. Empowering communities and building local capacity for health, coupled with continuous support and supervision, brings care closer to the people who need it most.
Kyein Chaung is a village of 45 households located in the Yoma Mountain Ranges of West Bago region. The villagers were displaced during the Myanmar civil war and the nearest town is about three hours away by motorbike. There is no well-constructed road, but only narrow roads. In rainy seasons, walking is the best way to reach there, as it is risky for motorbikes and could lead to accidents. There is no public health service close to the village; the only available health center is in a village which is two and half hours walking distance from the village. Preventable illnesses such as diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria, and other maternal health issues have increased mortality rates in the area.
Christian Aid, in collaboration with ‘Karen Baptist Convention (KBC)’ piloted a project using ‘Participatory Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment’ tool in villages including Kyein Chaung Village in 2014. The tool was used to assess what the community health risks were, level of vulnerabilities and capacity to adapt.
Thirty year-old Naw Kay Zi Min and two other women leaders were selected to receive a 10-day training on primary health care and support to manage a village-owned clinic. She had participated in community health worker trainings from the township health department of Paukkaung Township, but did not receive support to put the knowledge into practice. Currently, the three women take turns managing the clinic, which is governed and supervised by a clinic management committee and supervised volunteer health workers. Small donation is consulted on consultation, and used to replenish the medicines.
Naw Kay Zi Min said, ‘Because of our clinic, the villagers could get immediate treatment for minor health problems, instead of going to the Government Health Centre in the nearest Town which takes 3 hours from our village. Household expenditures due to travel costs to the health centers during health emergencies is significantly reduced because of this clinic. As we become healthier, we earn more income and could invest more for education, social and religious activities. We don’t need to go to the forest frequently and sell products to pay for expenditures of emergency health problems.’