Better Lives Blog
Thursday, November 6, 2014

Midwives: Essential Influencers in Malaria Prevention

Tom Putzer 

            

Midwives play an essential role to ensure that women and their babies receive a continuum of care during pregnancy, childbirth, and in the important days and weeks after birth. As a result, they are trusted and respected members of their villages.

Than Than AyeThan Than Aye, a trained midwife in Myanmar serves 15-20 patients a day across eight villages. She provides primary health care, ante and postnatal care, pediatrics, delivering babies, and collecting health data. In her words, she does everything but have the baby!

It takes two years of training to become a certified midwife and six months to become an auxiliary midwife. The Ministry of Health pays midwives 80,000 kyat (about $80) per month, and auxiliary midwives don’t get paid at all. Than Than often has to travel long distances to provide care to remote villages, some of which are accessible by motorbike and others only by foot.

Than Than has lived in the health clinic for the past 10 years with her husband. She sleeps on the same beds that she treats her patients. The local villagers donated money to build the clinic, and they rely on donations of supplies and materials to keep their village healthy.

In addition to health care services, she is also responsible for educating the villages on health practices. When we spent time with her, she said she was working on campaigns around waste disposal, nutrition, and sanitation. Every month she reaches out to two villages and focuses educational efforts on children.

Than Than showing medicationsAs part of her efforts, she educates her villagers on malaria-prevention tools and approaches. Her clinic receives treated bed nets, repellent creams, and mosquito bait from the Ministry of Health for free to distribute throughout the villages.

Dr. Yin Thandar Lwin, Director of Public Health, from Myanmar's Department of Health, said midwifery education, services and deployment of competent and committed midwives is the “most important factor for Myanmar in order to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 4 -- Reducing Child Mortality and 5 -- Improving Maternal Health by 2015.

As part of our efforts to prevent malaria transmission, we are working closely with midwives like Than Than to help educate people at risk of malaria, and provide access to the tools that can help prevent it. We recognize midwives as essential to the ongoing goal of malaria eradication.

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