Myitkina (Agenzia Fides) - "To bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth": with this spirit the Catholic-inspired "St. Bryce Missions" operates in one of Myanmar's conflict areas, that of Kachin state. The area, with a Christian majority, has one of the highest rates of infant and maternal mortality. In a commitment to human promotion, the organization, founded by the American Catholic layman Greg Mitchell, works to reduce infant and maternal mortality by promoting health programs and housing for pregnant women. The organization's work is supported by Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, Myanmar, and by the Bishop of the diocese of Myitkina, diocese in Kachin state. According to local Christians "the St. Bryce Missions project is sent by God", the need for intervention in this sector is very strong.
Thanks to the collaboration of the Jesuit Giresh Santiago, St. Bryce Missions has started a pilot program in Myitkina based on a model that he implemented in India and Costa Rica, aimed at assisting pregnant women and mothers at risk.
Maternal and child mortality rates in Myanmar remain among the highest in Southeast Asia. Out of about 916,000 births in the country, 18,800 die immediately, while 8,500 children die in the first days of life. According to the 2014 census, the infant mortality rate in the country is 62 deaths per 1,000 births and a child mortality rate under five years of age of 72 deaths per 1,000 births.
In terms of maternal mortality, the main causes of death include postpartum hemorrhage, prolonged labor, infections - all the complications that can be prevented with access to quality health care.
"We believe we are doing something extraordinary for this country, helping to change the lives of vulnerable children and mothers at risk", Mitchell told Fides. "Our work is guided by the Holy Spirit who has pushed us into this land: what we have found is the love of the people and the great faith of the local Catholic community". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 4/1/2018)