Midwives and ObGyn agree to tackle stubbornly high maternal mortality
PROTECTING mothers and babies is still unfinished business, healthcare professionals say. The Myanmar Nurse and Midwife Association (MNMA) and the Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society, part of the Myanmar Medical Association (MMA), have agreed to work together to improve the quality of care for mothers and newborns.
The two organisations signed a joint statement on collaborative practice on November 11 at Sedona Hotel in Yangon, vowing to strengthen their relationship and the working practices of nurses, midwives and obstetricians and gynaecologists.
The agreement calls for collaboration on capacity-building for midwives, policy advocacy, dealing with health emergency preparedness and response, and awareness-raising on midwifery.
Professor Dr Mya Thida, the president of the ObGyn Society and the MMA, said, “Midwifery services play the most important role in reducing maternal and peri-natal death in Myanmar. As we all know, maternal mortality and infant deaths are still high in our country according to the 2014 census. Improving maternal and neonatal health is an unfinished agenda, and we need to meet the sustainable development goals’ targets in 2030.”
She added that the most frequent causes of maternal deaths were preventable.
Dr Mya Thida said MNMA and the ObGyn Society had acted as partners in the past and the joint statement would strengthen their collaboration. “Our two organisations have been providing healthcare services for mothers and children, but there are too few midwives for the number of patients,” she said.
“There are about 12,000 midwives for 60,000 villages throughout the country. We need more qualified staff to provide coverage.”
According to the Ministry of Health, there are 1.46 health workers – doctors, nurses and midwives – per 1000 people, far below the World Health Organization’s minimum recommendation of 2.3 health workers per 1000 people.
Daw Yin Mya, the president of MNMA, said, “Working closely in collaboration with government and NGOs will strengthen readiness and rapid response capability for any kind of public health emergency at all levels, as well as promoting social activities for midwifery services,” including training.
According to the 2014 census, the maternal mortality rate was 282 per 100,000 live births at the Union level, the second-highest in ASEAN. Every day, about eight women in Myanmar die from preventable causes related to pregnancy, childbirth and post-natal care in the early weeks following delivery. About 10 percent of female deaths among women of reproductive age – defined as 15-49 years old – are related to maternal health.
The most important factors contributing to high maternal mortality are isolation and deprivation. Maternal mortality is higher among poor and uneducated women, who have less ability to recognise pregnancy complications and to access care.
A mother holds her baby at an IDP camp in Kachin State on June 7.