Comprehensive new study finds extensive harm in conflict-affected regions including widespread injury from unsafe birthing and abortion

February 2012

February 6, 2012 – A new report released today by Ibis Reproductive Health and the Global Health Access Program (GHAP) documents a widespread public health emergency in populations affected by the decades-old conflict in eastern Burma. Its consequences include maternal mortality rates that dwarf the rates in Thailand and Burma (Myanmar) as a whole, leaving women in eastern Burma with the worst pregnancy outcomes anywhere in Asia. 

According to Dr. Angel Foster, DPhil, MD, of Ibis and the University of Ottawa, “Our report finds that millions of Burmese and ethnic minorities both inside Burma and along the Thai border have limited or no access to family planning, safe abortion, and general reproductive health care. The toll on women has been particularly severe. Negative effects include high numbers of unplanned pregnancies — and, consequently, high rates of maternal mortality and unsafe abortions. In fact, post-partum hemorrhage and unsafe abortion are the leading causes of maternal death and injury.” 

The absence of health care infrastructure inside eastern Burma, as well as for those Burmese living illegally as migrants in Thailand, has produced a kind of reproductive health “perfect storm.” Notes Foster, “Since denial of health care has been an official policy of the Burmese military in ethnic areas, women and men, especially adolescents, know little about family planning practices and voluntary sterilization." 

Read the full press release here.
Download the full report and executive summaries and key findings in Burmese, English, Karen, and Thai here.