Poor maternal health care widespread in eastern Burma

December 23, 2008,

Access to maternal health-care is extremely limited and poor nutrition, anemia and malaria are widespread in eastern Burma, which increases the risk of pregnancy complications, says new research published in the open access journal PLoS Medicine. Human rights violations—such as displacement and forced labur—are also widely present, and in some communities forced relocation doubled the risk of women developing anemia and greatly decreased their chances of receiving any antenatal care.

Luke Mullany and colleagues from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA and the Burma Medical Association surveyed 3000 women along the Eastern Burmese border as part of a baseline assessment of women's needs for their Mobile Obstetric Maternal Health Workers (MOM) Project, which was set up in collaboration with a health worker training clinic in Thailand called Mae Tao Clinic. They also conducted health assessments. Nearly 90% of the women reported a home delivery for their last baby, a skilled attendant was present at only 5% of births, and only a third of women had any antenatal or postnatal care, the authors report. Only a third of the women surveyed reported access to effective contraceptives.

Mullany and colleagues report that very few women had received iron supplements or had used insecticide-treated bednets, and consequently found that more than half the women were anemic and 7.2% were infected with malaria. Many women also showed signs of poor nutrition, the research says.

Frequency and types of human rights violations varied across the project sites in Eastern Burma. In the Karen region, more than 10% of household were forced to move, in the Karenni ceasefire region a third of women reported members of their household being forced to work, and in the Shan region many women reported forced labor, forced relocation, threats to food security, and direct attacks. In analyses looking at the relationship between human rights violation and maternal health, the authors found that the odds of receiving no antenatal care services were almost 6 times higher among those forcibly displaced.

The authors conclude that "coverage of basic maternal health interventions is woefully inadequate in these selected populations and substantially lower than even the national estimates for Burma, among the lowest in the region." It is clear, the authors say, "that considerable political, financial, and human resources will be needed to improve maternal health in this region."

In a commentary on the research article, Macaya Douoguih from the National Institutes of Health, USA (not involved in the study) says that the study provides "useful information on access to care and health indicators, which will help to prioritize unmet needs." "There is no question that an increase in access to services is desperately needed to improve health in this region," says Dr. Douoguih. "This study lays the foundation for an innovative community-based mobile health system that could greatly enhance the health of communities in eastern Burma."

Citation: Mullany LC, Lee CI, Yone L, Paw P, Oo EKS, et al. (2008) Access to essential maternal health interventions and human rights violations among vulnerable communities in eastern Burma. PLoS Med 5(12): e242. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050242
medicine.plosjournals.org/perl … journal.pmed.0050242

Source: Public Library of Science

Explore further: 1 in 4 pregnant women have mental health problems

Related Stories

1 in 4 pregnant women have mental health problems

January 4, 2018
A new King's College London study published Thursday 4 January in the British Journal of Psychiatry, found that 1 in 4 pregnant women have mental health problems. This is more common than previously thought – but two simple ...

Maternal mortality rates are on the rise, but more accurate estimates are needed

January 4, 2018
A new Birth analysis has uncovered dramatic increases in the rates of maternal mortality—the death of a mother during pregnancy, childbirth, or post-partum—in Texas in recent years. There was an 87% increase when comparing ...

Neuroscientists shed light on causes of postpartum depression using new research model

December 26, 2017
Postpartum depression strikes nearly one in five new mothers, who may experience anxiety, severe fatigue, inability to bond with their children and suicidal thoughts. Such depression has also been associated with infants' ...

More U.S. women obese before pregnancy, experts sound the alarm

January 4, 2018
(HealthDay)—Prepregnancy weights continue to rise in the United States, with less than half of women at a healthy size before conception, U.S. health officials report.

Childbirth deaths declining in U.S., new report finds

January 4, 2018
(HealthDay)—Improved management of excessive bleeding and high blood pressure during labor and delivery are helping to reduce the number of childbirth-related deaths in the United States, maternal health experts say.

Conception during IUD use increases risks to mother and infant

January 8, 2018
Women who conceive while using an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD) have a greater risk of preterm delivery, low birth weight babies, bacterial infections, or losing a fetus, according to researchers at Ben-Gurion University ...

Recommended for you

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

Your dishwasher is not as sterile as you think

January 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Your dishwasher may get those plates spotless, but it is also probably teeming with bacteria and fungus, a new study suggests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.