The maternal mortality rate of Eastern Myanmar is both unnecessary and devastating. The T-RAD Midwife Program is dedicated to contributing a significant reduction to the maternal mortality of 721:100,000 live births as reported by Johns Hopkins University in 2010.
The program is training Physician’s Assistant Students in midwifery skills, with the desire to build this into a fully accredited midwifery program. The program also supports existing midwives from rural areas with medicines, equipment and referral services. The training the students receive is ethnically appropriate, focused on relationship building and aims to dramatically reduce maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. The project in 2017 started offering an ultrasound program to the women of the area and beyond. It is the first time they have had ultrasound that has been accessible. Each month 80- 100 women come and receive an ultrasound and antenatal care. The reality that this program offers referral assistance has improved many outcomes for women of the rural and remote areas.
The program is managed by a full time Australian Registered Midwife who has 10 year’s experience working in Eastern Myanmar. She works alongside a Burmese trained and registered Karen midwife and together they provide training and clinical services. This project is run through Earth Mission Asia (EMA) who have a long history of health care training and service provision inside Karen State. Their clinical records show that maternal health care is one of the top reasons for individuals accessing care. As a result of this it has been clearly shown that well trained midwives are essential to meet these needs.
This program is based in the town called by the Karen as Ler Doh and by the Burmese it is called Kyaukkyi in Bago Division Myanmar.
The cost of living in Yangon Myanmar has accelerated dramatically in the past few years. Rental prices are at a record high, and as a result thousands of poor and ethnic people find themselves forced into life in slum communities on the outskirts of the city. These people live a precarious life, under constant threat of eviction at any time. The rent the dwellings they reside in; semi-permanent structures of wood, bamboo plastic and leaves. Its humble, but it’s the best they can do to shelter their families. Poverty begets poverty; school is near inaccessible to many as the travel is long and the buses don’t stop for the children of the slums, as it is a fairly reliable assumption they are unable to pay their bus fare. Parents are regularly forced to leave their children unattended in order to gain any kind of employment. The conditions of the slum are not desirable and the children are at great risk in such a squalid and nefarious environment. The overcrowding and poor sanitation create very real and serious public health risks.
This program is administered by a small grassroots local organization called Community Care Myanmar. They provide a small team of community workers to provide a very real and powerful presence in this slum community. Their desire is to empower the community through child day care programs, basic preschool education and a daily nutritious meal. They provide a transport scholarship for a growing number of students, basic health care and health education. A new initiative over the past 12 months has been to implement life skills training for parents. This is a registered local non- government organization and is run by enthusiastic local staff. We are privileged to partner with them as they work in this vulnerable slum community.
Decades of ethnic conflict in Eastern Myanmar has created a serious health crisis. It is estimated that in order to receive basic care at a clinic where the medic may have 6 months – 1 year of training; people will walk over 85 mins. The Ther Ray Dau Pae Rehabilitation and Development Association (T-RAD) has started a Physician Assistant Training program to address this problem. The aim is providing a high-level health facility with both outpatient and in-patient services, pathology, and reliable referral services. Young ethnic Karen students are trained as Physicians Assistants in a 5-year program designed to equip them with the knowledge and skills to address the health problems of the areas they will return to serve. Each year 10 students are accepted into this program from the very rural and inaccessible areas this project longs to serve.
This is a not for profit project, and is owned and driven by dedicated members of the local community, it is supported by a strong ethnic Karen Board and an advisory committee of staff from Earth Mission Asia.