For emergency-affected women, clean delivery kits are a lifesaver

Myanmair | 2022 | CERF

Myanmar, Hsihseng Township, Shan State. The ongoing crisis in Myanmar is making it increasingly difficult for pregnant women across the country to access life-saving sexual and reproductive health services, including skilled child delivery assistance.

Giving birth without support from a skilled birth attendant can significantly reduce the chances of having a safe and healthy delivery, and increase the risk of infection for both the newborn and the mother.

Even before the current emergency, Myanmar had Southeast Asia’s highest maternal mortality rate (MMR). As is the case around the world, infection and sepsis are among the leading causes of maternal deaths in Myanmar.

UNFPA estimates that about 3.7 million of the 14.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Myanmar are women of reproductive age, of whom 250,000 were expected to be pregnant or give birth in 2022.

UNFPA has significantly ramped up the distribution of individual clean delivery kits (CDKs) in 2022, in response to the access, security, financial and  other challenges that prevent many women from giving birth at health facilities.

A UNFPA CDK contains a bar of soap for use by the birth attendant, a plastic sheet for the mother to lie on, sterile gloves, a sterilized razor blade to cut the umbilical cord, clamps for the cord, cotton towels and a plastic bag for the placenta.

CDKs can help mitigate the risks of infection by making it possible to create a safe and clean setting for delivery, though UNFPA points out that women should still be encouraged and supported to deliver at health facilities and to take their CDKs to the facilities at the time of delivery.

UNFPA provides guidance saying that recipients of CDKs should be given information on the importance of seeking health services, including antenatal care, and that families and communities should be encouraged to consider birth planning so that they are prepared when it’s time for birth.

“This (CDK) will be very helpful and supportive for my delivery. I am displaced from my home and don’t know where I will be able to give birth,” a pregnant 31-year-old internally displaced person (IDP) said in Hsihseng Township, southern Shan.

Another IDP said she too was glad she received a CDK “I have no idea where I will be at the time of delivery due to this very unstable current situation and issues to access services. I feel happy and safe when I think about my delivery. I will keep this CDK safely until my due date,” the 27-year-old woman said.

UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, is coordinating closely with UNICEF and other partners to ensure wide distribution of CDKs to pregnant women from communities affected by the humanitarian situation in Myanmar.

The provision of CDKs is partly funded by the Central Emergency ResponseFund (CERF).

More information on the CERF allocation.

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