Separated by Borders, United by Need (GHAP / Ibis, Feb. 2012)

A new report by Ibis Reproductive Health and Community Partners International's eastern Burma border branch, Global Health Access Program (GHAP), documents a widespread public health emergency in populations affected by the decades-long conflict in eastern Burma / Myanmar. The consequences include maternal mortality rates that dwarf the rates in Thailand and Burma as a whole, leaving women in eastern Burma with the worst pregnancy outcomes anywhere in Asia.

Ongoing civil war in eastern Burma has decimated reproductive health care on both sides of the Thai-Burma border. Conflict-related human rights abuses and 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.”

The findings of "Separated by Borders, United by Need: An assessment of reproductive health on the Thailand-Burma border" demonstrate: little access to family planning resources, including sexual and reproductive health information; a pervasive need for increased access to skilled birth attendants; and high rates of unplanned pregnancy, maternal mortality, and harm from unsafe abortion. Unsafe abortion is a leading cause of maternal mortality for Burmese populations on both sides the Thailand-Burma border.

The report is based on a multi-methods assessment. Ibis and GHAP researchers conducted interviews with local partner organization representatives, reviewed and synthesized statistics and data, completed a service mapping exercise, and conducted focus group discussions (FGDs) with migrants and healthcare workers. Ibis and GHAP researchers interviewed representatives from numerous partner organizations serving cross-border and migrant populations, as well as organizations that serve seven of the nine refugee camps.