UK pledges to help Myan­mar with malaria, nat­u­ral dis­as­ters

The Myanmar Times - - News - LUN MIN MANG lun­min­mang@mm­

ON his first vis­it­ing to Myan­mar, UK Min­is­ter of State at the De­part­ment for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Rory Ste­wart has an­nounced that his gov­ern­ment will de­liver ad­di­tional health and emer­gency re­sponse as­sis­tance.

Speak­ing to re­porters at the UK am­bas­sador’s res­i­dence on Au­gust 25, Mr Ste­wart said the as­sis­tance would cover malaria, a crit­i­cal health is­sue for the coun­try and its neigh­bours.

“The British gov­ern­ment, along with other in­ter­na­tional part­ners, is very much fo­cused on the elim­i­na­tion of malaria. We are work­ing hard to try to elim­i­nate the dis­ease in South­east Asia by 2030,” he said.

The as­sis­tance in­cludes the pro­vi­sion of test­ing kits and treat­ment to malar­ial pa­tients, he said.

“We are pro­vid­ing 450,000 test­ing kits, as well as treat­ment for 11,000 peo­ple suf­fer­ing from malaria,” he said, adding that the fo­cus was on preven­tion.

“The most im­por­tant thing is to pre­vent peo­ple get­ting malaria in the first place. So the British gov­ern­ment is an­nounc­ing that we will do­nate 2 mil­lion mos­quito nets,” he said.

The anti-malar­ial as­sis­tance is be­ing pro­vided through 3MDG (Three Mil­len­nium De­vel­op­ment Goal Fund), an in­ter­na­tional joint fund­ing op­er­a­tion that fo­cuses on fight­ing tu­ber­cu­lo­sis, malaria and HIV specif­i­cally, and child and ma­ter­nal care in gen­eral.

The UK min­is­ter said his coun­try would help Myan­mar strengthen its ca­pac­ity to re­spond to hu­man­i­tar­ian dis­as­ters and ex­treme weather events such as se­vere flood­ing.

“[The goal is to] help Burmese in­sti­tu­tions to re­spond rapidly to emer­gen­cies and re­duce needs and vul­ner­a­bil­ity so they can be less re­liant on donors such as the UK,” said he.

The as­sis­tance will also go to im­prov­ing san­i­ta­tion and the qual­ity of wa­ter for 90,000 peo­ple in Rakhine State and Yan­gon, Bago and Aye­yarwady re­gions via the United Na­tions Chil­dren’s Emer­gency Fund.

“While fo­cus­ing on peo­ple re­cov­er­ing from floods, we will also sup­port UNICEF in pro­vid­ing wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion,” said Mr Ste­wart.

The UK gov­ern­ment will also pro­vide rain­wa­ter ponds in 80 vil­lages and rain­wa­ter tanks for 8000 house­holds in the re­gions, and help them pre­pare for nat­u­ral dis­as­ters.

Mr Ste­wart said his de­part­ment would co­op­er­ate with in­de­pen­dent groups to mon­i­tor the cor­rect use of the funds. “We com­mis­sion in­de­pen­dent groups who do an anal­y­sis to make sure that our money is spent cor­rectly,” he said.

On Au­gust 25 he vis­ited Yan­gon Gen­eral Hospi­tal and a TB cen­tre “to lis­ten to peo­ple and to learn” what as­sis­tance his gov­ern­ment should pro­vide to Myan­mar. He is also vis­it­ing var­i­ous other lo­ca­tions across the coun­try.

The min­is­ter praised the work of vol­un­teers who go from house to house to en­sure suf­fer­ers take their med­i­ca­tion reg­u­larly, since the fail­ure of some pa­tients to com­plete their course of treat­ment could lead to the cre­ation of drug-re­sis­tant strains. About 200,000 are thought to con­tract the dis­ease in Myan­mar an­nu­ally.

“TB is a com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­ease, which means the more peo­ple we can treat, the less chance the dis­ease has to spread,” he said.

Photo: Aung Khant

Rory Ste­wart (right), UK min­is­ter of state for the De­part­ment for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment, and British am­bas­sador An­drew Patrick visit Yan­gon Gen­eral Hospi­tal on Au­gust 25.

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