The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide a strategic link between Myanmar government and non-governmental organisations (NGO) in expanding HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention services, using funds from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR), the lender said.
Using a $10 million grant from the JFPR, ADB will establish partnerships between government and NGOs to deliver better services in 739 villages in five townships in Mon, Kayin, and Shan states.
The move aims to strengthen the provision of healthcare in remote, vulnerable, and hard-to-reach populations, the Manila-based lender said.
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 homosexual men. ADB said that of those infected, only 40,000 adults and children receive anti-retroviral treatment (ART), presenting a significant treatment gap.
“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.”
International NGOs, alongside local NGOs and community-based organisations, provide the bulk of HIV services in the country, including prevention services, drop-in centres, 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 percent of ART was delivered by NGOs at clinics outside the public system, ADB said.
ADB 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 percent, the number of patient consultations increasing by 80 percent and behaviour change campaigns to help reduce exposure to HIV, STIs, tuberculosis, and malaria.