A reproductive health needs assessment in peri-urban Yangon, Myanmar
Abortion, Contraception
Awarded 2014
Trainee Grants
Grace Sheehy, BSocSc
University of Ottawa

Background: The 2010 elections in Myanmar installed the country’s first civilian-elected government in more than 50 years, and subsequent growth and change have been rapid. However, reproductive health indicators are generally poor and reflect significant regional and geographic disparities. Rural populations are increasingly migrating to urban centers, like Yangon, in search of better economic opportunities and in response to persistent conflict. Many are settling in peri-urban Yangon, a dynamic series of townships characterized by poor infrastructure, slums, and a highly mobile population. However, very little is known about the reproductive health needs of this population. Objectives: This study aimed to identify the reproductive health needs of women in peri-urban Yangon, and to understand better current practices, available services, and potential avenues for improvement. My research focused on delivery care, contraception, abortion, and post-abortion care. Methods: Focus group discussions, key informant interviews, and surveys were used to collect data. We analyzed data using standard qualitative analytic techniques. Results: Reproductive health services are often available but inaccessible. Findings demonstrate considerable misinformation, common and unsafe practices surrounding abortion and delivery, and a dearth of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services for adolescent and unmarried populations. Conclusion: A unique and tailored service delivery approach is needed to meet the complex and varied needs of the peri-urban population. Many organizations are doing important work to improve reproductive health, but more data and resources are needed to inform their efforts. Collaboration between these organizations, and support from the reproductive health community more broadly, could help facilitate these efforts.