Myanmar's Campaign to Treat Neglected Tropical Diseases Reaches Millions
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) have a crippling affect on the people of Myanmar, one of the poorest countries in Asia. A staggering 80% of the population is at risk for one or more of these parasitic and bacterial infections which can cause severe pain and disfigurement. Despite this, Myanmar is making progress in the fight against NTDs due in large part to an unprecedented and ambitious campaign that took place over just one week in September, 2013.
A new video from END7, a campaign of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, shows how thousands of health workers and volunteers came together to help end the burden of NTDs in Myanmar. Watch it here:
Myanmar’s NTD Burden
Approximately 41 million people (80 percent of the total population Myanmar) live in districts endemic for lymphatic filariasis (LF) and more than 12 million children require deworming to protect them against soil transmitted helminthes (STH). Across the country, 20,000 people require treatment against trachoma and more than 7,000 people need surgery to alleviate the effects of trachoma.
45 of Myanmar’s 65 districts are endemic for NTDs. 36 districts were treated in Myanmar’s September, 2013 mass drug administration (MDA). Six districts have already completed the necessary number of MDAs and are preparing to assess whether or not transmission of LF has stopped. The remaining districts are hard to reach and have not yet started MDAs. Myanmar has been coordinating MDAs since 2001 – yet 2013 marked the largest scale-up in the country’s history.
The September, 2013 Campaign
With the support of END7 and the World Health Organization (WHO), the Myanmar Ministry of Health protected more than 36 million people from lymphatic filariasis (LF) and intestinal worms in its largest campaign to date.
The one-week campaign required careful coordination beginning with the national government and ending with local communities. The donated medicines were transported to more than 200 townships across Myanmar with the help of more than 4,000 health workers and 90,000 trained volunteers.
The health care workers and volunteers traveled door to door and visited schools and community centers. They spent time talking to people about the importance of these medicines and the impact of NTDs. Teachers, community organizations, NGOs and other partners all played a big part in making sure that these medicines are distributed and helped protect families in Myanmar.
Plans for a 2014 MDA are already underway and Myanmar’s government plans to continue treatment until NTD transmission has stopped in all districts. If NTD treatment continues to be prioritized in Myanmar, the country can achieve its goal of eliminating NTDs by 2020. Lack of available resources to implement the program and the need for greater public awareness on NTD treatment and control are the primary challenges now.
Will you help raise awareness by sharing our video today? Together we can create a brighter future for millions of children in Myanmar.