Case study: Epidemic preparedness in Myanmar

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Adaptation and roll-out of Epidemic Control for Volunteers’ (ECV) Toolkit and Training Manual in Myanmar / Myanmar Red Cross Society / 2015


Myanmar is the largest country in mainland South-East Asia and is vulnerable to a wide range of hazards including floods, cyclones, earthquakes, landslides and tsunamis.
Over the last decade the country has dealt with the devastating effects of Cyclone Nargis (May 2008); which severely impacted the Ayeyarwady and Yangon divisions, and Cyclone Giri that hit Rakhine State (October 2010). Rural areas, some unreachable by modern transportation methods, are the most vulnerable to disasters.

Communities across the country are also faced with chronic threats from communicable diseases, food insecurity and malnutrition. The impact of communicable diseases on the community varies between urban and rural areas, with potential for outbreaks in rural communities higher than in urban society. Malaria also presents a significant problem in Myanmar with approximately 76 percent of the population (7,931,446) living in high-risk malaria areas, divided into 80 endemic townships of 15 States and Regions. National statistics indicate over 200,000 laboratory-confirmed cases per year.

The evolving political context has resulted in changes to the health care system, in terms of administration and roles and responsibilities, however the Ministry of Health remains the major provider of comprehensive health care.
Health care is organized and provided through the public and private sectors with significant numbers of the population relying on traditional medicine.

In line with the National Health Policy, Myanmar Red Cross Society is taking some share of service provision, its role increasingly important as the need for collaboration becomes more apparent. Myanmar Red Cross Society community health volunteers are part of the health workforce in Myanmar, especially in relation to preparedness and response to emergencies and disease outbreaks/epidemics. Myanmar Red Cross Society also continues to run programmes for combating HIV,tuberculosis and malaria