News

Australia-first meeting tackles unacceptable maternal and child health in Burma


11 April 2012

Unacceptably high maternal and infant mortality rates in Burma are being addressed for the first time in Australia at a conference at the University of Sydney today.

More than 80 delegates from Australia and overseas will attend the two-day meeting, which aims to find practical ways to improve maternal and child health in Burma.

The infant mortality rate per 1000 live births in Burma is 28.2 in urban areas and 30 in rural areas, according to data from the Statistical Year Book, Central Statistical Organisation (CSO). The maternal mortality ratio per 1000 live births was 1.23 and 1.57 for urban and rural areas respectively.

The most serious illnesses of maternal and child health are those arising from premature birth, then pneumonia, diarrhoea, infections associated with malnutrition, and meningitis.

"This meeting is occurring during a critical period of global re-engagement with Burma," says Dr Gomathi Sitharthan, one of the conference organisers from the University of Sydney's Faculty of Health Sciences.

"Burma has been isolated from the international stage for decades, and as a result has not had access to much available information for the dissemination of health care.

"We hope the meeting will also open the door for further collaboration to engage in medical, health, scientific, social and humanitarian causes," she says.

Held jointly with the Burmese Medical Association of Australia and partly supported by AusAid, the event will involve clinicians, health service planners, academics, representatives from government and researchers from Australia, Burma, Malaysia, Brunei, the USA, the UK and Canada.

"The participation in this meeting of a Burmese delegation has been made possible by the recent change of political climate in Burma toward greater openness and the current aid policy of the Australian government," says Dr Raymond Tint Way, President of the Burmese Medical Association Australia.


Event details

What: 'Building Bridges', seminar for strengthening collaboration and building the collective contribution of overseas Burmese health professionals to maternal and child health in Burma

When: Tuesday 10 and Wednesday 11 April

Where: New Law Building, Camperdown Campus


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Media enquiries: Katie Szittner, 02 9351 2261, 0478 316 809, katie.szittner@sydney.edu.au