Pregnant women in camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Arakan State have not had access to full healthcare services during the ongoing third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A team from Relief International (RI), which has been providing regular healthcare services to IDPs at Pi Pin Yin IDP camp in Mrauk-U Township, has not been able to deliver the necessary medicines for pregnant women for about two months; essentially since the third wave of Covid-19 began in Myanmar.
“The RI team arrived at the camp in May to provide medical care to the IDPs,” said Daw Ma Hsan Wai, a pregnant woman at the Pi Pin Yin IDP camp. “But the RI team did not come here because of the virus outbreak in June and July. I am nine months pregnant and have only had two doses of vaccine. I was running out of medicine because the health department also did not come here. When I ran out of medicine, I had to go to an obstetrician in Mrauk-U to get medicine.”
The health department only provides certain vaccinations to pregnant women, infants and mothers once every four to six months, she added.
The Pi Pin Yin IDP camp is one of the camps in Arakan State recently hit by floods.
Women from the Sinbawkaing IDP camp in Mrauk-U Township, which has a population of about 4,000, have not had access to healthcare since its establishment, said U Nyi Pu, manager of the camp.
“Since the establishment of the camp, IDP women have not been able to access any healthcare. The healthcare system in the camp is very weak. The monthly vaccinations are given only after the health officers arrive in the villages,” he explained.
The government did not agree to the construction of the Sinbawkaing IDP camp, which has not received any support from the government as a result.
Pregnant women need to eat nutritious foods to keep themselves and their babies healthy, but are often unable to afford decent meals amid the Covid-19 pandemic due to financial constraints and limited access, said Daw Yi Yi Oo, a pregnant woman at the Nyaung Chaung IDP camp in Kyauktaw Township.
“During the Covid-19 disaster, pregnant women need to be provided with healthcare. … We do not have the money to buy food, meat or fish to boost our immune system,” she added.
Dr. Soe Win Paing said he had appealed to the relevant township health departments and health department partners to ensure that there was no shortage of healthcare in the IDP camps.