Myanmar is set to receive a portion of a US$117 million Asian Development Bank loan aimed at combating emerging infectious diseases.
The Greater Mekong Subregion Health Security Project will target outbreaks in Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. The loan is meant to boost access to treatment for the regionally common diseases malaria, dengue, SARS, bird flu and corona virus. The project focuses on strengthening the four countries’ public health infrastructure including health services, surveillance and response to outbreaks, and greater quality control in laboratories.
The project will benefit five states and regions throughout Myanmar, focusing on poor, marginalised communities with limited mobility, the ABD said.
“The project will help address weaknesses in these countries’ health systems and promote cross-country cooperation to improve national and international health security,” said Gerard Servais, ADB’s senior health specialist at the Southeast Asia department.
According to Population Services International, currently the greatest threats to public health in Myanmar include HIV, drug resistant strains oftuberculosis, malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea and reproductive health issues.
In a 2014 study on public health in Myanmar, the World Health Organization found that out of a population then of 52 million, 30 percent of deaths were caused by communicable, maternal, prenatal, and nutritional conditions, 11pc from cancers, and 9pc from chronic respiratory diseases.
The total cost of the Greater Mekong Subregion Health Security project is $132.2 million, with each of the country putting forth $7.2 million to realise the goal of a cross-country, sustainable health system strengthening program by the first quarter of 2022.
By Lillian Kalish