Emma Jackson spent part of her summer in 2020 working with an implementing and funding organization in the Rohingya Refugee Crisis in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh to help standardize aspects of the maternal and perinatal death surveillance, and review the system (MPDSR) in place to collect data on mortality, to determine cause of maternal/perinatal death, and to review cause of death data to formulate a response.
To her, it was a sobering learning experience that has created many questions in her mind. Outside of the technical learning about death surveillance, monitoring, and evaluation, Emma learned about how humanitarian health systems function and about the unfortunate politics of humanitarian aid and the Rohingya refugee crisis. She learned about the role midwifery plays in saving the lives of mothers and babies, and developed an interest in potentially pursuing training in that one day. She also learned very quickly that to get anything done in that setting, you had to be very assertive.
I have been thinking a lot about trauma and data collection... in particular how to ensure that in situations like this, the data collection/surveillance being done is trauma-informed and data collectors are sufficiently and consistently trained.
The Rohingya have experienced generations of trauma and persecution. They cannot go back to Myanmar realistically, and the government of Bangladesh will not allow them to live outside of the camps, nor to access education. They are stuck in limbo, in an extremely population-dense living environment that sits in a geographical area at high risk for monsoon flooding and typhoons. Drug and human trafficking has increased in the area since the influx of Rohingya fleeing persecution. While humanitarian aid workers have set up a health system, bolstered infrastructure, and are still there working to make sure the health needs of these people are met, it is a dire situation.