Children call for equity in Myanmar’s healthcare system to tackle child mortality

Wednesday 5 March 2014

About 150 children in Kayin State, Myanmar, ran the Race for Survival on 23rd October 2013. The children were calling for urgent action to tackle child deaths, especially in the most rural and remote parts of Myanmar.

Guests of Honour at the event included the Minister of Mining and Forestry in Kayin State and Health Department Deputy Director, who delivered speeches to the children and guests. Other distinguished guests included the wife of Kayin State Prime Minister and Chairperson of Kayin Sttae Myanmar Women and Child Welfare Association.

Race for Survival

At the start of the Race for Survival, a child representative stepped forward in front of a crowd of 700 to explain the reason children were so excited to run the Race for Survival and why it is important that the government take action to provide health services to children and their families in the most rural and remote parts of the country.

“A child born in a rural area is twice as likely to die before her fifth birthday as a child born in an urban area,” said Kelland Stevenson, country director for Save the Children in Myanmar. “This disparity is simply unacceptable. All children, regardless of where they are born, should have access to the health services they need in order to survive and thrive in society.”

About 56,000 children in Myanmar die before their fifth birthday, many due to preventable causes such as diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia. In remote and rural villages of Kayin State, Save the Children implements a simple, low-cost, village approach to saving children’s lives, known as the community case management program.

In this program, the children’s organisation trains local volunteers to diagnose and treat common childhood illnesses, as well as refer cases to public health centres. It also teaches parents and caregivers to recognise the danger signs of common childhood diseases. Over the course of 2012, over 800 community volunteers were trained, and the program was scaled up to 355 villages in 8 townships.