New Institute of Maternal and Child Health launched in Myanmar

25 November 2013

The University of Public Health, Myanmar, and Sydney Medical School at the University of Sydney recently launched a joint Institute of Maternal and Child Health, to be based in Yangon, with the purpose of reducing the high child and maternal mortality rates in Myanmar.

The new Institute was launched by the Rector of the University of Public Health, Professor Nay Soe Maung, and the Dean of Sydney Medical School Professor Bruce Robinson, with the Governor of New South Wales, Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO.

Professor Nay Soe Maung said maternal and child health were among the key issues of concern for the Myanmar Government and the new Institute had the strong support of the Myanmar Ministry of Health.

"This is an important day," said Professor Nay Soe Maung.

"We in Myanmar have to work together, this is a good time to collaborate with other institutions.

"Although we have received more funding in recent years, we have a long way to catch up and this collaboration presents us with many opportunities - not just in maternal and child health but in other areas as well."

Dean of Sydney Medical School Professor Bruce Robinson said: "Far too many mothers and children aged under five die each year from preventable causes, and we are pleased to be involved in this new Institute.

"Myanmar is facing great challenges as the Government and health groups seek to improve the health system and their capacity to deliver health services across the country.

"We greatly look forward to working with our health colleagues and partners in Myanmar in the University of Public Health, the Medical Universities, in the Ministry of Health and among the NGOs, to help reduce the number of mothers and babies who die prematurely."

About Myanmar: Myanmar is the largest country in mainland South East Asia but one of the poorest in the region. Following the 2011 national elections, expenditure on health has grown - from 0.2 percent of GDP to 0.7 percent in 2012-13 - but remains well under the levels of majority of other developing countries.

According to the Ministry of Health's most recent data, under-five mortality rates are high at 35 per 1000 live births, but with significantly higher rates in the rural areas. University of Public Health data presented at the Institute launch indicates that in 48,000 children aged under five died in 2012, with 50 percent of deaths newborns.

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