One stormy night in June, Rosemary lay in the dark of her home in the desert village of Mindat, Myanmar, which was in the throes of labor as My Nightingale, a 25-year-old midwife, tried to drown out her screams.
“Only the two of us were left alone in the village. “We closed all the doors and windows of the house and stayed inside,” said My Nightingale. “When he was in pain, I put a blanket over his mouth because we were afraid the soldiers might hear him.” Like others interviewed for this article, Al Azeh Azira used the pseudonyms Mai Nightingale և Rosemary for their own safety.
Rosemary’s squabbles began last night, but as soldiers approached her village in southern China, she and other villagers fled into the woods. But there was no shelter from the incessant rain, so Rosemary և My Nightingale decided to risk a collision with the soldiers and return the next morning.
“The situation was not conducive to the birth of a baby,” said My Nightingale. “We saw Burmese soldiers walking towards our village, but we could not go back because [Rosemary] It was already exhausted. “
Rosemary’s husband did not dare to accompany her, fearing that if they saw her, the soldiers would mistakenly make her a member of a local armed group. Since the February 1 military coup, civil defense forces, mostly armed with shotguns and homemade weapons, have moved across the country to fight the regime, and Mindat has been a hotbed of resistance since May.
According to a tactic used for decades by armed insurgency to intimidate the people, the military has carried out disproportionate attacks on Mindat, including artillery, rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns, and looting the city, according to local media reports. Young men are especially likely to be targeted.
Rosemary gave birth to her baby shortly after the soldiers’ voices were extinguished. My Nightingale cut it, tied the umbilical cord with a razor blade, and boiled it in water with no other disinfectants. Although Rosemary և her baby is healthy and safe, the circumstances of the birth show the growing risks faced by mothers and infants in the face of an escalating humanitarian crisis.
Mai Nightingale երկու Two other nurses interviewed by Al Jazeera who provide maternal-infant health care to those displaced by armed conflict say they are severely limited in their ability to deliver babies safely, and that physical insecurity puts pregnant women at greater risk. շրջանում Among newborns. ongoing violence.
“The main health risks of pregnant women and newborns are their lives. “They may die during or after childbirth because they have to flee when soldiers approach their hideout,” said a nurse in Loikav, Kayah province, nicknamed ile pit. “There is not enough medical equipment or medicine … children cannot be vaccinated or given adequate shelter.”
Collapsing healthcare system
The United Nations estimates that some 230,000 people have been displaced since the coup.
Invarians not only attacked civilians, but also cut off food and water supplies to those affected by the conflict, shelled displaced camps and shelter churches, and shot displaced people trying to bring rice from their villages, as well as burned food and medical supplies. : Ambulance:
At the same time, Myanmar’s health care system has collapsed, but there are few options left even for women who are willing to risk giving birth in their hometown or village or receiving vaccinations or treatment for their newborns.
The strikes of the current medical workers left the state hospitals in the background of the wider movement of civil disobedience, while some health institutions stopped working altogether. Invarians have also repeatedly attacked health care professionals, institutions, and taken hospitals.
My mother put her hand on my cousin and prayed. By the grace of God, she gave birth successfully
UNICEF Myanmar Representative Alessandra Dentis told Al Jazeera that the vast majority of pregnant women displaced after the coup did not receive emergency obstetric care, while routine immunizations for children were “almost discontinued”.
“Without immediate action, we estimate that 600,000 newborns a year will lose potential infant care, posing a serious risk to their survival and long-term well-being across the country,” he said, adding that some 950,000 children are also missing out on the immunizations. services
In Midat, My Nightingale has so far helped deliver three displaced women. Two of them, he said, had to keep moving in the days before seeking safe asylum before giving birth, causing them physical pain and possibly forcing them to work.
My Nightingale knows that providing medical services to pregnant women and their newborns, even though they do not have the facilities or hygiene equipment, is extremely dangerous for women, their newborns, and that security forces can target her, but she says that is the only option. “Although the soldiers could arrest both the patients and me, I will continue to help people in need of medical care,” he told Al Jazeera. “There is no one else who can help them.”
Pregnant women in the state of Kayah, where about 100,000 people have been displaced since early June, are also at risk. On June 8, the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar warned of “mass starvation, disease, and impact deaths” in Kayah over the blockade of food, water, and medicine by refugees.
Smile, a 24-year-old nurse, fled her village in the town of Loikav on June 11 with her cousin, who was on a work-haul while fleeing. “The artillery fell on the rock where we were hiding. That was the day [my cousin’s] “But he could not deliver. We had to flee to safety,” Smile said. “While we were running, he had to carry heavy things.”
Remembering the advice of her mother, also a nurse, Smiley had taken the delivery kit with rubber gloves, tweezers and scissors while fleeing the village. “My mother told me that medical workers could not stop even if the world was in chaos,” he said.
She and her mother used to rub the equipment while her uncle’s husband built a bamboo-tarpaulin tent under which they delivered his cousin’s baby. “My mother put her hand on my cousin and prayed. By the grace of God, she successfully gave birth without [heavy] bleeding, ”said ile pit.
But some displaced mothers have had tragedies.
Little time to grieve
In the town of Loikav, Hu Meh delivered twins to a local clinic on April 8. One died. Khu Meh fled home with the other girl in mid-May. “We traveled a long way, we moved from place to place, sometimes we slept in the bushes,” he said. About three weeks later, a second twin died in the jungle while drinking milk from Hu Meh.
In Beijing, Beijing, about 40 miles north of Beijing, Beijing, Mary ran away from home in the last week of May when she was more than seven months pregnant.
“The invaders were shooting every night … we were very scared to sleep at home,” he said.
She had taken refuge in a church, but after shelling it on June 6, she fled again to a cornfield, where, with the help of a local midwife, she placed her fifth child, a baby boy, under a bamboo shelter.
It rained endlessly the following week, and Mary’s baby died suddenly. There was little time to mourn. Mary and her other children had to flee again a week later, approaching the soldiers.
Despite a drop in maternal mortality rates in Myanmar from 2000 to 2017, to five years, UNICEF remained one of the most dangerous places for new mothers and newborns in Southeast Asia even before the coup.
In 2017, maternal mortality was 250 deaths per 100,000 live births, while under-five mortality was 48 children per 100,000 live births.
Al Azira Azira has not been able to find data on maternal and child mortality among the displaced population in Myanmar since the coup.
Nai Winnie, a nurse in the Demoso district of Kayah province who had been displaced by the fighting, is now volunteering with a local relief team in the mountains where she fled.
He told Al Jazeera that the disease is common in young children. He has treated dozens of skin infections, diarrhea cases, and fears that health problems will only increase due to poor hygiene caused by a lack of clean water and lack of toilets.
The rainy season began in June, making sanitation more difficult and increasing the risk of catching colds, flu or mosquitoes.
She also takes care of more than 10 pregnant women.
He had originally planned to send them to a temporary clinic near the foothills, but the clinic’s volunteers and patients had to be evacuated amid heavy fighting on June 16.
Now he is not sure what he will do.
One woman who is now more than five months pregnant has previously given birth by caesarean section. Եւ Nav Winnie is concerned that a woman may bleed if she gives birth vaginally, but having a caesarean section in the jungle is simply risky.
“We do not have safe, hygienic facilities or baby delivery equipment,” he said. “If I help the baby to give birth without hygienic means, it will endanger both mothers and children.”
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