Miscarriages and stillbirths are increasing in war-torn Shan State, Burma

27 March 2024


Pregnant mothers in Shan State are fleeing conflict to remote jungles and giving birth in highly dangerous locations, according to a fact-finding report by HART.

The mothers’ search for food is a daily struggle, which adds to the risk of miscarriage and stillbirths. Their babies may be born prematurely or suffer from infections. Yet there is almost no special care to help them survive.

Sam Mason, Chief Executive of HART, says:

“As more and more people seek shelter in remote locations, HART is scaling up its humanitarian response. Our local partners are perfectly placed to help people in need. This includes emergency obstetric services so that mothers can give birth safely and care for their newborns.”

HART’s report, published today, is based on first-hand accounts of frontline medical workers, witnesses to atrocities and local human rights activists. It warns of escalating military attacks against Shan villages and the deliberate targeting of hospitals and medical facilities.

The violence has resulted in massive levels of displacement, restricted access to food and medicines, and severe disruption to maternal, newborn and child health services. Frontline medical workers have observed increased incidents of miscarriages and stillbirths.

Despite the urgent needs, few international organisations are able to reach conflict-affected communities. One of HART’s local partners in Shan State, who supports displaced women through pregnancy and childbirth, says:

“We are often the only healthcare providers in our catchment areas. Our communities rely on us to save lives and treat the sick. There is so rarely any other help.”

HART is urging international powers to strengthen their efforts on Burma. It calls for border countries, Thailand and India, to allow unhindered delivery of cross-border humanitarian assistance. Sam Mason says:

“Lives are at stake. It must not be left to a handful of small organisations to tackle this crisis on our own. We call on international powers to step up their response, without delay.”

Notes to editors

  • Burma is also known as Myanmar.
  • The escalation of conflict in Shan State represents the heaviest clashes in Burma since the military coup in 2021.
  • More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in Shan State since October 2023.
  • A stillbirth is when a baby is born dead after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy. If the baby dies before 24 completed weeks, it’s known as a miscarriage or late foetal loss.
  • HART (Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust) is an international development charity.

For press enquiries, contact

Back to News

Help our local partners realise their vision of hope for their communities