Imagine for a moment that you are in desperate need of medical care, but the only care available to you is either too far away or too expensive. In Myanmar, one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia, this scenario is a reality for many people.
Meet Naw Eh Wah, a mother of six in Myanmar. She experienced complications during her most recent pregnancy, and was able to receive much needed care from Naw Too Day, a health care worker in her village who was trained by Medical Teams International. Naw Eh Wah and her seven month old son are now healthy.
Thankfully, when Naw Eh Wah began experiencing pregnancy complications, she knew where to turn for help.
A mother of five, Eh Wah’s other pregnancies had gone smoothly. But, during her sixth pregnancy, she began bleeding. Filled with fear for her health and that of her unborn baby, Eh Wah quickly consulted the community health worker in her village, Naw Too Day. Too Day, a volunteer trained by Medical Teams International, performed a checkup and offered Eh Wah guidance on the best next step to ensure her and her baby’s health – to go to the nearest hospital for delivery.
Filled with fear for her health and that of her unborn baby, Eh Wah quickly consulted the community health worker in her village, Naw Too Day.
While Eh Wah trusted the guidance that Too Day provided, she knew going to the hospital would be next to impossible. Her husband was away working, and she could not leave her other five children home alone to care for themselves.
Unfortunately, this is a reality for many mothers like Eh Wah around the world. Only 37 percent of babies are delivered in health facilities. Follow-up care--including vaccines and health monitoring--is less likely to happen, putting children at greater risk.
But these harsh realities are exactly why we establish community health programs like the one that equipped Too Day. Trained as a midwife, Too Day serves a critical role for mothers in her community when going to the nearest clinic isn’t feasible. That way, regardless of constraints, mothers and children are better guaranteed a safe delivery and follow-up care.
Thanks to Too Day’s training, Eh Wah delivered a healthy baby at her home. Because of Too Day’s training, Eh Wah’s baby boy was also able to receive vaccinations that some of Eh Wah’s other children were not able to get early enough –one of her daughters is now partially deaf due to a preventable case of whooping cough.
Eh Wah is thankful for Too Day’s advice and care, and that she has someone in her village she can trust to help keep her children healthy.
Through the Safe Motherhood Project, Medical Teams International is striving to reduce mortality and morbidity among women and newborns. Because of the invaluable training of women like Naw Too Day, the lives of many people in Myanmar are being improved.