Myanmar women would like to have more access to reproductive health resources, according to surveys conducted by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Public Health Department under the Ministry of Health and Sports.

The surveys from 2014 and 2015 show that birth rates are still high in rural areas, with some mothers giving birth to 10 to 12 kids, said Daw Hla Mya Thway Eaindra, director of the Public Health Department’s mothers and reproductive health section.

“Mothers said in the survey that they wanted to control birth rates,” she said, “but they don’t know how. In response, the ministry is offering contraceptives for free. We want them to reach as far as the countryside, conflict areas and border regions.”

Myanmar has one of the world’s highest maternal mortality rates, according to the UNFPA, with 200 mothers dying per 100,000 child births. Only 39 percent of the population is using modern methods of contraception, the organisation said.

According to the surveys, only 2pc of women in Myanmar use female condoms, U Soe Lwin Nyein, director general of the Public Health Department, said at a press conference in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday.

The surveys will make future birth control distribution more effective and help to streamline budgets, he added.

A 2016 survey will shine even more light on these problems, said U Kyaw Oo, director of the Ministry of Health and Sports’ Medical Research Department.

“We noticed in these surveys that we need more staff,” he said. “In providing healthcare, we need to find out how many more staff members are needed and which regions they should be in.”

The 2014 and 2015 surveys also showed that rural clinics are lacking medical supplies, he said. “The system that’s providing medical products isn’t perfect yet,” he said.

Some rural healthcare departments have been keeping medicine after it has expired, or throwing it away when there is extra, said U Soe Lwin Nyein.

“We need to get medical staff at every level educated to the next level,” he said.

Janet Jackson, the UNFPA Myanmar country representative, said that the current healthcare system will be upgraded and modernised in the areas of need that are highlighted in the 2014 and 2015 surveys.