Myanmar: Community health workers receive training about dengue fever, malaria and diarrhoea

Published: 1 April 2014 13:39 CET

“ I had learnt so much in training and I wanted to share. Now I could give advice to my village. I was full of confidence!”

Kyaw Swe (41) has lived in De Lone Bo village his whole life. This small farming community of 97 families face a number of serious health threats like dengue, malaria, diarrhoea etc. By September 2013, some 16,000 cases and 75 deaths were recorded in country due to dengue, also known as breakbone fever due to the severe pain it can cause. In Kyaw Swe’s village, dengue had claimed six lives.

With the nearest hospital being approximately 15 miles away, community members in the past relied on traditional medicine. Through a new Red Cross programme, community health workers are being trained in local hospitals and working closely with the health authorities. Kyaw Swe is one of three Red Cross community health workers who have been trained in this village, with an auxiliary midwife currently completing her training.

“I used to be a daily labourer – working to help lay roads but now I have the responsibility of being a community health worker, I don’t like to travel too far away from the village. So now I work nearby, in farming,” says Kyaw Swe. He goes on to add that, “The public health midwife first suggested I should become a Red Cross community health worker and I was very interested to know about health and medicine and how I could help my village.”

“I didn’t have a lot of health knowledge before so I was very happy to learn and I’m proud to share this information with my village. I learnt a lot about how to take care of pregnant women and small babies. I also learnt how important it is to keep your environment clean.”

The intensive month long training took place at Sagaing Hospital. Kyaw Swe and his fellow trainees were also exposed to real life medical emergencies in local communities.

“Monday to Friday was in the classroom learning about dengue fever, malaria, diarrhea and natural disasters. Then every Saturday and Sunday we went to local villages”.

Now a dedicated health resource in his community, Kyaw Swe is constantly busy putting his training to good use. “People come to me now if they have headaches or fever. I give advice, medicine and check people’s blood pressure. It’s especially important to support pregnant women and if I can see there is a problem I contact the public health midwife and arrange transport to the hospital,” he explains.

Stopping dengue from spreading is our collective responsibility. Only by investing in long-term community initiatives, we will be able to put an end to the silent suffering caused by dengue. Read more on