MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide a strategic link between Myanmar’s government and the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) currently providing HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services in order to strengthen the provision of healthcare in remote, vulnerable, and hard-to-reach populations.
“As Myanmar continues implementing social and political reforms, it must protect its people from inadvertent exposure to communicable diseases like HIV, tuberculosis, malaria,” said Gerard Servais, Health Specialist in ADB’s Southeast Asia Department. “Non-governmental groups have done an excellent job filling gaps in treatment and prevention services, but it’s time to both expand and strengthen these services to reach more people and provide more preventative measures.”
An estimated 240,000 people in Myanmar are thought to be living with HIV, which classifies the country as “high burden.” A 2012 survey by the National AIDS Program shows infections concentrated amongst injection drug users, female sex workers, and men who have sex with men. Of those infected, only 40,000 adults and children receive anti-retroviral treatment (ART), presenting a significant treatment gap.
International NGOs, alongside local NGOs and community-based organizations, provide the bulk of HIV services in the country, including prevention services, drop-in centers, clinics, and outreach programs. NGOs also support private sector provision of sexually transmitted infection (STI) treatment and distribute condoms and lubricants. In 2011, some 70% of ART was delivered by NGOs at clinics outside the public system.
Using a $10 million grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, ADB will establish innovative partnerships between government and NGOs to deliver better services in 739 villages in five townships in Mon, Kayin, and Shan states. It is projected that by 2017, communities will see strengthened health systems that can plan for and manage responses to HIV/AIDS and STIs, with the number of trained health service providers increasing by 30%, the number of patient consultations increasing by 80% and behavior change campaigns to help reduce exposure to HIV, STIs, tuberculosis, and malaria.