Poverty and lack of access to nutritious foods is a barrier to health in rural Myanmar. The cuisine in the villages centers around rice. Protein consumption here is scarce, maybe only a couple times a month. The rice is not enriched and lacks the essential vitamins and micronutrients required for a healthy pregnancy and childhood.
According to a leader in global health innovation, Path.org “…more than one-third of children under five years old are chronically malnourished or stunted and nearly every three out of four pregnant women are anemic. These micronutrient deficiencies have lifelong consequences for health, productivity, and mental development. Worldwide they are associated with 10 percent of all child deaths.”
From the beginning, Shanta recognized vitamin deficiencies in the villages. Children were observed underweight and with stunted height. Malnutrition was confirmed when the children were measured using the Myanmar government’s height and weight chart. This awareness led to a vibrant partnership with California based, Vitamin Angels. Vitamin Angels is an international organization that provides Shanta with multivitamins to distribute to pregnant women and children through our Village Nurse Midwives program. In 2017 alone, 145 women were recipients of prenatal vitamins and 361 children were recipients of multivitamins.
A Pone Tan village grandmother shares about her 11month old granddaughter, and how her health has improved after taking multivitamins for five months. “She used to be sick with a cough and cold and fever every month for 4 months till she was six months old and had diarrhea every two months. She didn’t eat and sleep well just cried a lot. Since taking vitamins, she has had no more fever in last five months. She eats four times a day and slept well at night. She has had one time of diarrhea in last five months.” She continues, that she “…feels thankful to Buddha that her grandchild got vitamin while she can’t provide enough vitamin foods for her grandchild.”
A mother from the same village has a two and half-year-old son who has been taking multivitamins for over a year. She happily reports, “Since taking vitamins, he has had no more cough in last year. He is much healthier and grown a lot since taking the vitamins. We don’t hear coughing sounds and hear just laughing sounds of enjoying time and playing. And all the white circular spot on his skin were gone after one month of taking vitamins. My husband and I were very happy for that.”
These stories from the villagers touch our hearts. We see the tangible difference we can make with powerful partnerships. We look forward to our continued alliance with Vitamin Angels in 2018 to reach even more pregnant women and children in rural Myanmar villages.