ADB pledges HIV/AIDS support for remote villages in eastern Burma

ADB pledges HIV/AIDS support for remote villages in eastern Burma

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) aims to provide a significant link between governmental and non-governmental organisations and the grassroots communities they seek to help in providing HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services, according to state media.

Using a US$10 million grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, the project seeks to target 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, a health specialist with ADB’s Southeast Asia department, noting that “it’s time to expand and strengthen” services to reach more people.

Burma has an estimated 240,000 people living with HIV/ AIDS, but a 2012 survey by the National AIDS Program showed that just 40,000 were receiving anti-retroviral drugs, presenting a “significant treatment gap”.

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According to a report in The New Light of Myanmar on Wednesday, the ADB-sponsored project aims to deliver better services in 739 villages in five townships in Mon, Karen and Shan states in eastern Burma by 2017.

“It is projected that by 2017, [those] 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 behavior change campaigns [introduced] to help reduce exposure to HIV, STIs, tuberculosis and malaria,” the report said.

Speaking to DVB on Wednesday, Aye Mya Thida, the secretary of a HIV hotline initiative group, said she welcomes the support but warned that small grassroots communities could miss out.

“The organizations which have MoUs with the Minister of Health can receive funds. But in some parts of Mon state, for example, several civil society organisations which are strong in the area do not have official MoUs,” she said.

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