This funding will to provide mobile medical care to 3,200 to 6,400 children in the conflict zones of northern and eastern Burma via 3-6 additional Backpack Medics teams, who provide medical and community health services to children 5 and under.
The Burma regime has isolated the eastern and northern sections of the country, allowing no health care. For 60 years, the regime has launched an aggressive campaign of violence and forced labor on the Karen, Kachin and other minorities in the eastern and northern Burma. The results are horrific: infant, child and maternal mortality rates from malaria, dysentery, malnutrition, pneumonia and other preventable diseases is extraordinarily high. 1 in 7 children dies before the age of 5 where there are no medic teams.
Backpack medic teams of 3-5 trained health workers travel throughout the areas providing medical care and community health services focused on children. 60% of children’s deaths could be prevented with basic medicine (such as penicillin), provided by the backpack medics. The impact where the medics reach is profound: malaria deaths are down by 48% and 42% for dysentery among children 5 and under. Likewise, the maternal mortality rate is reduced by over two-thirds.
Care is provided at two levels. First Village Health Volunteers (VHV) reinforce sanitation and disease prevention practices, are continually present in each village. In addition, traditional birth assistants provide midwifery support to pregnant women and newborns. Second, backpack medic teams visit 9-12 villages/month (2-3 days/village), providing responsive and preventative care. Responsive care includes diagnosing and administering medicines for malaria, dysentery, pneumonia, worms and malnutrition common in infants. Preventative care includes distribution of Vitamin A, de-worming meds, building latrines and sanitary water supplies for villages and school.
The funds will provide medicine kits to 3 to 6 new backpack medic teams urgently needed in Kachin State, where the regime violated an 18-year ceasefire by attacking villages while seizing land. An additional 250,000 Kachin people have fled their homes.
The backpack medic program is unique in that it brings the care and medicine to the infants as their families seek sanctuary in Internally Displaced Person camps or in isolated villages. Currently, the medics serve a population of 205,000 people each year. The medic teams are 100% ethnic minorities from Burma – they are caring for their own.
Read the Ronald McDonald House Charities Global press release to learn more about the other amazing projects being supported.