Post sponsored by NewzEngine.com

Source: University of Otago

Current Master of Health Sciences student Myo Eindray Cho is studying at Otgao with the hope she can return to Myanmar and improve health outcomes.
After seeing first-hand the difficulties of humanitarian health workers in Myanmar, one Otago student wants to return home with the knowledge to improve outcomes for her people.
Current Master of Health Sciences student Myo Eindray Cho had been working with humanitarian organisations in her home country of Myanmar to improve the uptake of free immunisation programmes and maternal and child health services.
However, after watching the struggle of health workers she decided it was time to figure out why people were not opting-in on the free programmes to improve the health outcomes for women and children in remote areas of Myanmar. This led her to Otago, with the hope she can return and continue her work.

“It’s quite difficult if some of my audience are quite old ladies they say ‘you see I already gave birth to 12 children and no one died, my grandchildren are happy and playing on the ground, what are you talking about?”

Cho began applying for jobs in humanitarian aid organsisations after completing a Bachelor of Community Health in Myanmar.
Her first job was as a health assistant supervising volunteer workers in immunisation programmes and encouraging the use of midwives in remote villages. In order to get to the hard-to-reach Ayeyarwardy Delta region, which was devastated by the 2008 Nargis Cyclone, she had to motorbike to a jetty, travel by boat and walk long distances to reach villages.
“I went to the villages and really I just wanted to share what I learned and talk about how important child health is.”
The government sponsored immunisation programmes, which include polio, measles and tetanus injections, aim to improve children’s health.
However, Cho has received some push back from villagers who do not see modern medicine as useful to their lives.
“It’s quite difficult if some of my audience are quite old ladies they say ‘you see I already gave birth to 12 children and no one died, my grandchildren are happy and playing on the ground, what are you talking about?”
“It’s quite difficult for them to participate culturally – they believe a lot of taboos. They don’t really think they should use the midwives. They often give birth in dirty rooms with traditional birth attendants.”
In 2015, Cho moved to another humanitarian organisation working on the same project in the mountainous region Kayah State in the eastern part of Myanmar. Most of Kayah state is under control of Karenni Ethnic Army and the healthcare in this area is operated by Ethnic Health Organizations (EHOs).
The locals are wary of letting any outsiders do health education so Cho’s role was as technical support for the local health educators.
In the region people are more willing to take up the offer of free immunisation for children than in Ayeyarwady Delta. However, there are different challenges.
“People want to do it but the challenging factor for the mountainous region is the accessibility. They don’t have any transportation. They just have to walk, so they have to carry their children so far.”
Cho wants to be a part of finding a solution to the low uptake in maternal and child heatlh services including immunisation and help prevent future deaths because of preventable illnesses throughout the whole country.
“I could not find the solution at the time because my knowledge was limited. I was not really seeing what I needed to be seeing.”
This is what inspired her to come to Otago and do her master’s in Health Management.
“Otago has a really good reputation related to research and research is kind of my dream job. I really want more knowledge about researching and how to conduct it.”
She hopes to return to Myanmar and continue to improve the health outcomes of the population.
Cho is at Otago on a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Scholarship.

The situation in Myanmar:
A deadly and ongoing military coup erupted in Myanmar in February, resulting in the deaths of about 700 citizens so far, including children, in cities and towns across the country.
It’s been a few weeks since Cho’s family lost internet access, so she no longer is able to see her husband or daughter through video call. However, hearing their voice through phone calls is better than no contact, she says.
For now her family is safe.
Despite the worsening situation Cho says she has not lost faith in her country or her people.
“We need to fight for Democracy in my country and it is the only way for a better future of our people.”
“I hope that the darkest time of our country will be over soon. I am just trying to get myself ready for Myanmar’s new democratic future.”

MIL OSI