UK pledges to help Myanmar with malaria, natural disasters
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.
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.