In Kachin, Myanmar, ongoing, bitter conflict has uprooted thousands of women, children and families from their homes. Even though their lives have been devastated, Women and Children First has been working to empower these women to take control of their health problems.
Over 91,000 people have been uprooted in over 7 years of bitter conflict. These displaced people - sometimes known as IDPs - are now living in camps. Over three quarters are women and children. Many have not seen their homes, villages and towns for several years.
If these women had stayed in their communities, they would have been at risk of human trafficking and sexual violence.
In the camps, the women, including mothers and their babies, are at high risk of death and disease because of the dirty, squalid living conditions.
Many women experience health issues such as anaemia, diarrhoea and pneumonia.
Pregnant mums also often suffer haemorrhage and obstructed labour during delivery, as a result of trauma before they reach the camps and difficulties accessing quality health care.
Women and Children First, with our partner Health Poverty Action, have set up 30 Women’s Health Groups in these camps to ensure communities can overcome these problems.
Junwen Deng, Programme Officer at Health Poverty Action, said:
“The groups have proven to be a much stronger platform to spread awareness of health issues than individual health workers.”
Through word of mouth, the groups have been encouraging women to seek treatment quickly when ill, as well as spreading knowledge about common health issues. They do this by:
Raising awareness of self-care and care seeking, personal hygiene and good nutrition
Encouraging transport to health facilities through emergency transport funds and motorcycle ambulances
Teaching women how to detect danger signs in pregnancies early, so that they can seek immediate care.
They have also been advocating for local and national charities to provide food supplements to malnourished families. Additionally the groups have been lobbying for policy changes to better ensure women and girls protection in the camps.
Junwen adds, “The communities feel that the women’s health groups truly empowered them to prevent or find solutions to the health problems that they face and advocate for better services.”
Women are enabled to achieve this thanks to the kind supporters of Women and Children First. You can help more even more women survive and thrive worldwide by making a kind donation - £50 can fund places for 10 women to attend a health group for a whole year.