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AIM: The study assessed mothers, children and adolescents' health (MCAH) outcomes in the context of a Primary Health Care (PHC) project and associated costs in two protracted long-term refugee camps, along the Thai-Myanmar border. BACKGROUND: Myanmar refugees settled in Thailand nearly 40 years ago, in a string of camps along the border, where they fully depend on external support for health and social services. Between 2000 and 2018, a single international NGO has been implementing an integrated PHC project. METHODS: This retrospective study looked at the trends of MCAH indicators of mortality and morbidity and compared them to the sustainable development goals (SDGs) indicators. A review of programme documents explored and triangulated the evolution and changing context of the PHC services, and associated project costs were analysed. To verify changes over time, interviews with 12 key informants were conducted. FINDINGS: While maternal mortality (SDG3.1) remained high at 126.5/100,000 live births, child mortality (SDG 3.2) and infectious diseases in children under 5 (SDG 3.3) fell by 69% and by up to 92%, respectively. Maternal anaemia decreased by 30%; and more than 90% of pregnant women attended four or more antenatal care visits, whereas 80% delivered by a skilled birth attendant; caesarean section rates rose but remained low at an average of 3.7%; the adolescent (15-19 years) birth rate peaked at 188 per 1000 in 2015 but declined to 89/1000 in 2018 (SDG 3.7). CONCLUSION: Comprehensive PHC delivery, with improved health provider competence in MCAH care, together with secured funding is an appropriate strategy to bring MCAH indicators to acceptable levels. However, inequities due to confinement in camps, fragmentation of specific health services, prevent fulfilment of the 2030 SDG Agenda to 'Leave no one behind'. Costs per birth was 115 EURO in 2018; however, MCAH expenditure requires further exploration over a longer period.

Original publication




Journal article


Prim Health Care Res Dev

Publication Date





Southeast Asia, adolescent, child, maternal, primary health care, refugees, sustainable development goals, Humans, Retrospective Studies, Thailand, Female, Myanmar, Adolescent, Refugee Camps, Child, Pregnancy, Child, Preschool, Adult, Refugees, Infant, Male, Child Health, Primary Health Care, Young Adult, Adolescent Health, Infant, Newborn, Child Mortality, Southeast Asian People