|3DF host high level Australian and Danish delegations|
Danish minister for development cooperation, Christian Friis Bach is interviewed by Danish TV broadcaster Danmarks Radio (DR) outside Pyi Gyi Khin's HIV drop-in centre in Aung Ban, southern Shan state. ©James Howlett/3DF
30 January 2012 - The Three Diseases Fund hosted two high-level field visits either side of the New Year, with delegations from the Australian embassy to Burma/Myanmar and Denmark’s development minister wishing to see 3DF supported activities first-hand. The separate delegations met staff and beneficiaries at projects in Shan state and Tanintharyi region in the east and south of the country.
Brontë Moules, the Australian ambassador to Myanmar expressed how useful it was to see HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria projects. ‘The excellent work done by the communities shows that Australia’s assistance is going to good use’. Of the AU$48 million (US$51m) donated by Australia to Myanmar in 2011/12 AU$3.5 million (US$3.7m) was provided through 3DF for a year long project to try and contain drug resistant malaria from spreading across the country and beyond.
The Australian and Danish delegations were both warmly greeted by local communities with great appreciation and gratitude for their support. The standard and impact of the interventions jointly impressed the visitors.
During a Danish diplomatic mission in January, the minister for development cooperation, Christian Friis Bach travelled to Kalaw township in the eastern state of Shan with the Danish ambassador to Myanmar, Mikael Winther and a good number of Danish journalists. While confirming that Denmark was to double their aid to Myanmar to US$20 million, the minister said that while he was seeing positive progress at a national level, he wished to see that ‘development would be felt at all levels of Myanmar, particularly in remote groups’.
Mr Bach visited a local non-governmental organisation and 3DF partner Pyi Gyi Khin who had gathered representatives from their many HIV and AIDS self-help groups in this highly transient crossroads town in southern Shan, Aung Ban. They discussed with the minister how their work was building a stronger, more knowledgeable and tolerant networked community. One that helps care for those living with HIV as well as those whose lives are affected by the disease; men who have sex with men, sex workers and their clients as well as orphans and vulnerable children.
Australian ambassador Brontë Moules and Michael Hassett, the head of AusAid’s Development Assistance in Myanmar examine an x-ray of a 6 year old girl whose spine had been disfigured from tuberculosis. The PSI Sun Quality Health clinic in Dawei, Tanintharyi region, is providing treatment and care for the girl. ©James Howlett/3DF
Accompanied by Michael Hassett, the head of AusAID’s Development Assistance in Myanmar, the Australian ambassador visited health centres around Dawei in the south of the country, run by national health programmes supported by WHO, as well as projects by World Vision and Population Services International (PSI). With a limited number of skilled midwives and nurses in the region complicated health issues have to be referred to the nearest government hospitals. Though, there is a willingness by community health workers to make every attempt to try and deal with issues locally. Ms Moules was moved to compliment their efforts when she met the regional ministers for social affairs and health, ‘I was impressed to see how people of all ages get involved and volunteer to ensure the health of the local community continues to improve’. She hoped that they could carry on their good work.
Ms Moules visited a house in Kyauk Sin village, outside Dawei, where World Vision were informing local communities about tuberculosis. The project’s intention is to raise awareness of symptoms of the illness and let people know where they can get treatment. Education is important, as the six-month course of medication has to be strictly followed to avoid the patient becoming resistant to the drugs. If resistance does develop then becomes extremely difficult to cure them. It is hoped that these self-help groups can help with individual concerns about TB as well as to help inform the community through wider discussions.
Both delegations were able to meet general practitioners at PSI’s growing professional network of private practitioners’ Sun Quality Health clinics (SQH). This project was established to give communities better access to high quality standard medication and services.
Aung Thu Kha is one such clinic in Aung Ban, Shan state run by local doctor Ma Shwe Khaing. She offers general health services and subsidised medication to the low-income community. Her consultations generally cost around 2500 Kyat (US$3). Initially set-up to provide reproductive health and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, SQH clinics have expanded into other priority diseases in the country, such as tuberculosis, malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia.
Our delegations have been able to see how supporting focused activities towards targeted priority groups can reap rewards in small communities. With higher than normal incidences of HIV and TB amongst priority groups, good education and access to prevention and treatment services can help to bring down new cases of major diseases. Such is the work implemented by 3DF’s partners and stakeholders.
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