Vice President Dr. Sai Mauk Kham has called for an end to underage marriages and unsafe abortion practices, claiming that Myanmar’s adolescent birthing rate is too high.
He made the comments at a ceremony commemorating World Population Day, held on Thursday. The event was attended by government officials, diplomats, youth representatives and the UN.
During his opening speech, the Dr. Sai Mauk Kham called on Myanmar’s citizens and decision makers to empower and protect the estimated 2.9 million adolescent girls that live in Myanmar.
The current adolescent birth rate is 16.9 per thousand among those aged 15-19, according to a 2007 Fertility and Reproductive Health Survey. The Vice President claims the figures are high compared to the country’s ASEAN neighbors, and increased support is needed if Myanmar is to reach Millennium Development Goals.
“This is a matter of human rights to protection as well as access to services through a core package of comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health and HIV services” said Janet E. Jackson, UN Populations Fund (UNFPA) representative to Myanmar.
In a proposal outlined during the event, the UNFPA called for in increase in local services including contraception units, STI and HIV clinics, maternal health services and post-abortion care.
“These should be provided to adolescents in a friendly, sensitive, confidential, non-judgmental, and non-discriminatory way, without legal restrictions,” said Jackson, in a press release following the ceremony.
Last year, a report was released that claimed eastern Myanmar was facing a public health crisis, with maternal death rates far surpassing Thailand and urban Myanmar. (http://www.mizzima.com/news/inside-burma/6580-health-crisis-in-eastern-burma-health-survey.html) The report showed a high rate of unplanned pregnancies and unsafe abortion practices.
According to a 2007 World Health Organization report, only 37 percent of Myanmar’s women gave birth with a trained attendant present.