One in three pregnant women in Chin State are suffering from anemia, according to a report from the Ministry of Health and Sport.
U Aung Myat Kyaw, who is chairman of SUN CSA Myanmar (Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Alliance), said that the issue is due to a lack of protein and iron in women’s diets during pregnancy.
“Some people don’t eat protein-rich foods because of their customs and traditions,” U Aung Myat Kyaw told Khonumthung News.
“Some people understand that they need to eat these foods but they can not afford to buy them. Sometimes they are not available in their area. There are many reasons. That’s why they are suffering from [anemia].”
The Ministry of Health and Sport first reported the findings regarding anemia in a survey entitled “Myanmar Nutrition and Eating Habits” in February.
Anemia develops when a person’s body has a low red blood cell, or hemoglobin, count. It can be treated with changes to the affected person’s diet or iron supplements.
For pregnant women, it can cause difficulties giving birth and increase the risk of maternal death.
Daw Kyi Kyi Aung, of Karuna Mission Social Solidarity (KMSS) in Chin State, said that pregnant women are developing anemia due to malnutrition.
“They don’t consume nutrient-rich foods, and also have a vitamin deficiency, so women are suffering from malnutrition. They need to eat nutritious foods to get vitamins. It’s important for them to eat various healthy vegetables and to get vitamins provided by the healthcare department,” Daw Kyi Kyi Aung said.
It is not uncommon for pregnant women to not get vitamins during the times in which they need them due to both a lack of information and a lack of available vitamins in the state.
U Aung Myat Kyaw said that SUN CSA Myanmar is carrying out awareness-building workshops at the national level in Burma.
For the issue of malnutrition among pregnant women to be addressed, he added, the government and parliament need to be involved in discussions.
“It’s because parliament needs to approve the financial budget for nutrition issues. Then the government will implement it,” he explained.
“We will continue our advocacy campaign and awareness workshops. We will try to get CSOs [civil society organizations]to participate in a five-year plan of scaling up nutrition in the country.”
One such “scaling up nutrition” workshop was held at the city hall in Hakha, Chin State from May 29-30.
According to Chin State’s public healthcare department, there were 16 maternal deaths in the state in 2018. It is unclear how many were related to the women suffering from anemia.