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Mission in Myanmar

The Begum visits the country formerly known as Burma, November 2012

This trip leads us to one of the poorest and least developed countries on Earth: Myanmar – formerly known as Burma. The Princess Inaara Foundation (PIF) has been cooperating with its local partner, the renowned American NGO People Services International (PSI) for two and a half years to achieve an ambitious objective: to fight the greatest health risk to children under five years of age in this country. They mean pneumonia.

Problem of Pneumonia World-Wide

Only a few know that pneumonia constitutes an enormous health risk world-wide. A child dies of pneumonia every 20 seconds. In third-world countries, pneumonia is the main cause of death in children under five years of age. Every year, more children die of pneumonia than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined. The Fourth Millennium Development Goal (MDG4) of reducing child mortality rates by two thirds by 2015 can only be reached if greater efforts are made to reduce the deaths caused by pneumonia (according to a WHO/UNICEF report from 2009).

Problems in Myanmar

In Myanmar, pneumonia is the main cause of death in children under five years of age. The child mortality rate is especially high in rural areas stricken with severe poverty. Most children die of acute respiratory infections, diarrhea, and malaria with malnutrition being a contributing cause in 60 percent of these deaths.

In isolated rural areas, people have but limited access to qualitatively sufficient and affordable health care that would be necessary to effectively diagnose and treat pneumonia and other main causes of child mortality. Because there are inadequate funds and resources, no reasonable medical care can be guaranteed at the communal level.

At present, there is inadequate government funding, in particular for maternal, neonatal and child health care. Increasing health care investments in these areas could have a dramatic impact on strengthening the overall health care system in Myanmar and reducing the impact of preventable causes of death among women and children.

Deciding to Do Something about the Problem

Since her stay in England and with her many personal contacts with people of Burmese ancestry, the Begum became interested in Myanmar years ago. As the cyclone Nargis devastated the country several years ago, the health situation of the people became worse more than ever.

In response, the princess—despite all the opposition she faced—resolved to build out an important health care project in this hard to access country. From the outset, she had the fight against pneumonia at heart, the problems of which she was familiar with as she herself had long suffered with a severe case of pneumonia as a young person.

The Implementation

On the hunt for a suitable and dependable local partner, the Begum Inaara got lucky at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2009: People Services International or PSI for short is an important US-American aid organization operating world-wide for more than 40 years in more than sixty countries. PSI has been working in Myanmar for 11 years and, in its time there, has — in collaboration with the local government — built an efficient network comprised of specialist doctors, licensed general practitioners, and medical personnel in all the Townships of the country that even reaches into the rural areas where health care services are needed the most. Another important step was the financing of this widely conceived project. The Begum soon found a second, dependable partner that would provide financial support for the project from the outset in the renowned German aid organization Ein Herz für Kinder, founded in 1978 by Axel Springer.

In April 2010, PIF and PSI began their joint project, which ensures that subsidized high quality medical treatment and care by doctors shall be possible in all of Myanmar with the proper medications.

The goal of this program is to assure that each case of pneumonia is correctly diagnosed in its early stages and that its smaller patients receive the correct dosages of appropriate antibiotics.

Mission in Myanmar

Thanks to their special training, general practitioners accurately recognize the symptoms of pneumonia and can make a diagnosis without having to take chest x-rays. Upon a diagnosis of pneumonia, they prescribe antibiotics or, whenever necessary, transfer/transport the patient to a specialized doctor for additional treatment. The project is dramatically improving general access to health care services especially for the people who would not otherwise have access to quality medical care because the costs are too high or on account of the areas where these services are located being hard to reach.

One important aspect here is making the people aware of the problem. That is why a comprehensive communication strategy is part of the project. It is supposed to help parents get better at recognizing the symptoms of pneumonia, to get medial aid in a timely manner, and to keep their children on the prescribed medication for the entire time they are sick.

Mission in Myanmar

Doctors and nurses in the network visit the most remote village communities and educate the people on what measures they can take to protect themselves from pneumonia and what actions they need to take if someone falls ill; in this way, they are helping to prevent additional cases of pneumonia.

Mission in Myanmar

Success To-Date and Looking Forward

Since 2010, some 270,000 children under five years of age inflicted with pneumonia were able to be treated in this program with the support of Ein Herz für Kinder

More than 1,000 doctors were trained on how to treat and prevent pneumonia.

Some 140,000 adults in more than 14,500 events in rural areas have been educated on the risks of pneumonia.

Since 2012, 160,000 cases of diarrhea—the second most common cause death in children under five years of age in Myanmar—have been treated.

Still, each year sees some 60,000 children die in Myanmar before they get to see their fifth birthday. The main cause of death is pneumonia.

This is the Reason the Begum Inaara is Asking For Help

“Please help the children of Myanmar! No child today should have to die of pneumonia or diarrhea—there are highly effective medications and vaccinations. Each and every donation to the Princess Inaara Foundation goes directly and without any deductions to the health care projects in Myanmar.”

And she adds:

“As we began with this two and a half years ago, the international community hardly showed any interest in this country—accordingly, there was little aid and hardly any donations. The suffering of these people was unfathomably great. I have been watching the developments over the last year with great joy; since then, we have been experiencing how Myanmar is beginning to slowly liberate itself from its self-imposed isolation and to steer the course of democracy. This is a critical service of the Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who I was able to personally meet on my trip. She has deeply impressed me—she is a strong personality and intelligent and embodies the new Myanmar with her warm-heartedness and grace. President Obama recently visited this country—a clear sign that the international community shall now be turning towards Myanmar and that aid will now more than ever fall on fertile soil.”

Bild:Zwei starke Frauen helfen den Kindern von BirmaBild:Zwei starke Frauen helfen den Kindern von Birma