Throat’s examination

The health of women and children is recognized as one of the priority areas of the Southeast Asian regional action plan as it seeks to ensure healthy lifestyles among populations in member countries by 2020. That’s why there have been major efforts to identify key women’s and girls’ health challenges that need to be urgently addressed.


Despite the modernity in Southeast Asia, there are still many areas that do not receive adequate health services. Some form of medical aid is  usually encountered during foreign medical missions. Health care facilities are inadequate, and medical supplies and equipment are lacking as well. In some cases, modern health care services are shunned because people still believe in traditional medicine or because there is total lack  of modern healthcare services.


Majority of the women and girls in Southeast Asia still do not have access to reproductive health care. Unprotected sex is very rampant, with teen pregnancy and unplanned pregnancy getting to be major problems. Sexually-active children are getting younger and the absence of institutional efforts on sex education and reproductive health care services lead to complicated health problems for women and girls. Based on a number of studies, the Philippines and Thailand top the list of countries in Southeast Asia with the highest teen pregnancy figures. Unfortunately, government efforts haven’t been effective in curbing the numbers.


Myanmar’s deputy director for public health, Thein Thein Htay, recently reported that countries in Southeast Asia have substantially  reduced maternal mortality from 1990 to 2008 although the results are not consistent. Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei have made significant progress in reducing maternal mortality. The trend, though, is not sustained in other countries, including Cambodia, Myanmar, Indonesia and the Philippines, according to the report. Most of the reasons for the high incidence include postpartum hemorrhage, hypertensive diseases and unsafe abortion.

The latest data from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific indicate that the Millennium Development Goals on maternal mortality and reproductive health is unlikely to be met, although a separate UNDP report states that vietnam has already achieved it and Timor-Leste, Cambodia and Laos are on target


While the prevalence of HIv/AIDS in Southeast Asia is low, a different situation is faced by each country. Between 2001 and 2011, there has been a 25% decline in the prevalence of the disease in Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia. The reverse is evident in the Philippines and Indonesia as well as in Bangladesh where there has been a 25% increase. Transmission of the disease is mainly through paid and unpaid unprotected sex, injecting drug use, sex between men and mother to child transmission. These health challenges are definitely not impossible to overcome but requires a joint effort from all concerned agencies, from government institutions to the private sector, nonprofits, and grassroots initiatives.


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