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I am working with Muslim Aid UK (MA-UK), particularly for their Southeast Asia program. Basically I am contributing to public health works in emergencies in Indonesia and Myanmar. As my flight was landing Banda Aceh's airport, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake hit Bener Meriah and Aceh Tengah, two districts located about 8 hours driving from the Banda Aceh. Despite jet lag and the long flight, I was immediately deployed to the location with an MA-UK emergency response team to conduct a rapid needs assessment and emergency response for the affected population. I was responsible for assessing the scale of the catastrophe and its public health impact, and for making sure that the affected communities receive adequate assistance as soon as possible in accordance with SPHERE and HAP standard.
In addition to working in the emergency response program in Indonesia, I was sent to Myanmar to work with MA-UK team for their Integrated Emergency Response Program for Inter-Communal Conflict Affected Populations in Rakhine State and Mandalay Division. I work particularly in the health and nutrition aspect of their integrated program.
Myanmar is one of Asia's poorest countries, and according to the U.N. it is the most at-risk country in Pacific Asia. Rakhine State, the most affected area of the ongoing inter-communal conflict in Myanmar, is also the second poorest state in the country. It’s characterized by high population density, malnutrition, poverty and poor infrastructure. Traveling there is restricted, especially to foreigners, and I had to obtain a special travel authorization from Myanmar's government and pass layered immigration and security checks to visit the Internally Displaced Person (IDP)/refugee camps of the displaced Rohingya population.
Myanmar is one of Asia's poorest countries, and according to the U.N. it is the most at-risk country in Pacific Asia
My work involves conducting field assessment on health, sanitation, food security and nutrition in IDP/ refugee camps, preparing a consultation report of the assessment, and conducting health and nutrition education for various target groups (pregnant and breastfeeding women, school aged children, school teachers, community health workers, and mobile clinics nurses and doctors).
I also helped the team to conduct a “Training of Trainers” for community health workers, doctors and community facilitators to provide health and nutrition education in around 58 IDP/refugee camps. We also developed and pilot-tested a Disaster Risk Reduction Program that incorporates health and peace education targeting the most vulnerable groups in the most at-risk locations in Myanmar.
My clinical background as a medical doctor combined with my current training in public health helps me bridge health care services and public health intervention for the displaced population. I’m currently working on two certificates in global health and emergency response-- this experience in Southeast Asia has taught me that in the emergency public health field things can happen at anytime, anywhere, and I have to be ready at anytime and anywhere too.
To view more photos from Dirna’s time in Myanmar, click here