Press release: Increasing health care for poor and vulnerable communities in Myanmar

YANGON, 26 March 2015 – Grete Faremo, UN Under Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNOPS, urged Myanmar to continue extending essential healthcare to poor and vulnerable communities, and pledged support to the country’s health systems.

Ms. Faremo made her comments during a visit to Pakokku Township, Magway Region, where she saw auxiliary midwives being trained under a programme funded by the Three Millennium Development Goal Fund (3MDG).

The 3MDG Fund is a US$335 million fund established in 2012 to support the Ministry of Health's plans to strengthen health systems and accelerate service delivery, particularly to the poorest and most vulnerable communities in Myanmar. The Fund is supported by Australia, Denmark, the European Union, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, and managed by UNOPS.

The training was attended by some 25 women who enrolled in the nation-wide programme in response to the Ministry of Health's plan to deploy at least one trained health care provider to every village.  The 3MDG Fund will support the Ministry of Health in training more than 5,500 new auxiliary midwives by August 2015, out of a national target of 10,000, further increasing access to essential community health services.

Ms Faremo said: "Despite good progress, access to health services remains a challenge in Myanmar for the poor and disadvantaged groups, in particular minority groups and people living in conflict-affected and hard-to-reach areas.

"By working with the Government of Myanmar and the 3MDG Fund, UNOPS is delighted to support the training of auxiliary midwives who effectively link the community and the health system, and help adolescents, women and children live healthy lives."

The trainee auxiliary midwives will acquire essential knowledge and skills. This will  enable them to complement and assist midwives in delivering primary healthcare services. In absence of a midwife, an auxiliary midwife can provide preventive care before and after pregnancy, as well as delivery care and care for the newborn. She also gathers information about births, deaths and contraceptive use so that the system can better support the community.

This national training programme is part of the 3MDG Fund's strategic support to the Ministry of Health's plan to increase the responsiveness of health systems. This will help to better meet the health needs of Myanmar's population, and attain the priorities needed for Universal Health Coverage.