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A reproductive health needs assessment in Peri-Urban Yangon, Myanmar

Grace Sheehy, MSc Candidate, the University of Ottawa

Project abstract

Although a 2010 election replaced the violent military dictatorship with a civilian-elected government, Myanmar remains mired in conflict. Ongoing violence, including persecution of ethnic minorities, has led to massive population displacement, disrupted health services, and poor health outcomes. Rates of maternal mortality in conflict-ridden parts of Myanmar are some of the highest in the world and up to half of all maternal deaths are due to unsafe abortion complications.

Many displaced people have congregated in slum settlements surrounding Yangon, Myanmar's largest city and former capital. This population is particularly vulnerable to unintended pregnancy. As abortion is severely legally restricted in Myanmar, complications from unsafe abortion are widely regarded as a public health crisis. However, no reliable data exists on reproductive health in peri-urban Yangon.

Through the review and synthesis of local data, key informant interviews, service mapping, and focus group discussions, this study will explore reproductive health in this region. I will document women's reproductive health status and experiences, perceptions of service availability, and recommendations for service improvements; explore the experiences and perceptions of decision-makers and service providers in Yangon; and develop a map of available services.

This study will fill a significant gap in the literature, particularly on abortion care. Results will be proactively disseminated to inform policy and planning on reproductive health in Myanmar, ideally contributing to efforts to improve reproductive health in the country.

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