Maternal, newborn and child health
Ending preventable deaths and boosting health outcomes
Child survival rate has improved in Myanmar over the last decade, but it remains among the highest in Southeast Asia, at 50 per 1,000 live births, according to the 2014 census. Many children and mothers are still dying of preventable causes.
Half of all deaths among children occur in the first month of life and are due to often preventable causes such as low birth weight and other complications related to prematurity, as well as birth asphyxia and sepsis.
Maternal deaths are also high at 282 per 100,000 live births, according to the census.
About seven mothers die every day associated with pregnancy and childbirth, most within two days of delivery of a child.
Socio-economic factors play an important part in mortality rates and in the search for solutions. A child under five living in a rural area is nearly twice as likely to die as a child living in an urban setting. Children from the poorest families are nearly four times as likely to die as those from the wealthiest families.
Short birth intervals, lower education levels among mothers, a lack of adequate health facilities and insufficient health care visits before and after birth also contribute to the lack of safety around birth.
Only 37 per cent of deliveries are in a health facility, and just 60 per cent of infants are delivered by a skilled medical provider.
Undernutrition poses serious risks for mothers and children, as it increases susceptibility to serious disease. Though the rate of child stunting has fallen in Myanmar from 35 per cent to 29 per cent, data suggests as many as 60 per cent of children suffer from anaemia, and many children and pregnant mothers have additional micronutrient deficiencies. Lack of access to safe drinking water and improved latrines also contributes to illness and impacts negatively to child mortality.
The many causes contributing to children’s and maternal deaths must be tackled through robust health systems strengthening, including removing bottlenecks to effective care. Building linkages and interventions in related areas—including nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene, and community health awareness—are also vital to improve nutrition outcomes.
UNICEF collaborates with other stakeholders of the Scaling Up Nutrition network to support the Government to strengthen life-saving nutrition interventions across multiple fronts.
In 2017 UNICEF support enabled a rollout of the child death surveillance and response system, complementing the maternal death surveillance and response systems. These systems are vital to improve understanding about mortality, and strengthen services.
In 2018, UNICEF supported the installation of newborn care (NBC) corners in areas with high infant mortality rates, where 1,900 sets of NBC Corner equipment for rural health centres and 150 sets for hospitals were distributed, contributing to increase in coverage to 80 per cent for newborns receiving postnatal care within two days of births.
Mothers and children in humanitarian situations face additional threats and challenges. In 2018, more than 108,600 children and women in conflict-affected areas of Kachin, Rakhine and Shan states utilised antenatal care, delivery care, post-natal visits and referrals for emergency obstetric and newborn complications.