Dr Liz Goodburn and Professor Wendy Graham made a joint visit to Myanmar in January 2019 in support of the partnership with WaterAid Myanmar and Jhpiego for the Water for Women (WfW) Project: Supporting Safer Births in Myanmar.
This project, which started in July 2018, is funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). It aims to support the Myanmar Ministry of Health & Sports (MoHS) to improve Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) & Infection Prevention & Control (IPC) in township hospitals with a particular focus on preventing infections in mothers and newborns and supporting Gender Empowerment & Social Inclusion (GESI). The main focus for Soapbox is training and supervision of the hospital cleaners but we are also involved in other related aspects of the project such as Quality Improvement (QI) mechanisms.
The visit was an opportunity for extremely useful engagement with our in-country WfW project partners WaterAid and Jhpiego and provided the chance to have a Project Working Group meeting to discuss progress and future planning. They were also able to engage in preliminary discussions about the WfW project standards and plans for the baseline study and QI process. Jhpiego is already engaged in discussions with the MoHS about standards and monitoring as part of their Essential Health Services project and it was important for all involved to get an overview of how the WfW project will integrate with these activities.
During the week they also had an opportunity to meet with Dr Thinn Thinn Hlaing, the In-Country Director for THET and co-ordinator for the Myanmar-UK Health Alliance, briefing her on the WfW project. They also met with Dr Thae Maung Maung from the DMR to discuss possible plans for future research.
Professor Graham and Dr Goodburn joined members of the project partnership team on a visit to a township hospital, an experience which provided very useful background and context for the future project activities.
This visit was a unique opportunity to work together with the in-country partners. They very much appreciated the team spirit, engagement and hospitality of everyone involved including the opportunity to sample some delicious Myanmar tea break snacks! At the end of the visit they were delighted to participate in the formal signing of the partnership agreement between WaterAid Myanmar & Soapbox in the WaterAid Office.
As this was Prof Graham’s first visit to Myanmar on their final evening they managed some sightseeing and visited the Shwedagon Temple. As well as enjoying the beauty, peace and tranquillity of this important shrine they were touched to note a voluntary blood donation centre within the temple; an evocative end to an inspiring visit.