Effective neonatal care is a matter of life or death, successful entry into the world or tragic loss. According to the recently released census, Myanmar has an infant mortality rate of 62 per 1,000 live births. Low birth weight/prematurity, neonatal sepsis, and birth asphyxia are the leading causes of neonatal mortality.
Close to 76% of deliveries in Myanmar are home deliveries attended by midwives. A 2012 UNICEF study (4.75 MB) found that delivery by an auxiliary midwife or traditional birth attendant double the risk of neonatal death compare to delivery by a midwife or doctor. Improving community-based neonatal care in Myanmar is central to savings infant’s lives.
From June 2012 through May 2013, PATH partnered with multiple organizations to design and deliver a training on essential newborn care for midwives. Our Myanmar government partners included the Maternal and Child Health division of the Ministry of Health, Divisional Health, and Township Health departments. In addition, we collaborated with the Burnet Institute, an international nongovernmental organization with expertise in civil society empowerment for social transformation.
Together we set out to reduce neonatal mortality and morbidity in the country by:
- Improving skills of community-based midwives to provide high-quality neonatal care.
- Increasing awareness of emergency obstetric and neonatal care by rural women.
- Improving access to emergency obstetrics and neonatal care by rural women.
The project built on PATH’s expertise in implementing Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) initiatives in resource-limited settings. This approach combines a proven interactive training course and introduction of innovative, low-cost technologies, such as neonatal resuscitators and neonatal training manikins.
The course was approved by the Ministry of Health and piloted in three townships in Yangon. PATH improved the knowledge and capacity of neonatal care and nutrition department and township heads, midwives, health workers, and mothers in communities in both semi-urban and rural communities in Yangon. The trained persons serve a collective population of 500,000 with an estimated 10,000 pregnant women per year. They also now have access to life saving commodities provided through the project.