The United Kingdom, Sweden, United States and Switzerland have committed more than $215 million to improving the health of Myanmar’s most vulnerable people through the UNOPS-managed Access to Health Fund.
Myanmar’s health system continues to improve, but significant health inequities remain. People living in conflict-affected areas are likely to experience poorer health outcomes, while those living in remote or hard-to-reach places are also more likely to suffer.
Four donors – the United Kingdom, Sweden, United States, and Switzerland – are committed to tackling these complex challenges, through continued pooled funding for Myanmar’s health sector. This pooled funding mechanism, the Access to Health Fund, will operate from January 2019 to the end of 2023. Access to Health is aligned with national health goals and priorities, supporting the achievement of Universal Health Coverage by 2030.
Access to Health Fund Board Chair Rea Bonzi said: “Despite making great leaps forward in the past few years, the health system in Myanmar faces great challenges in reaching its most vulnerable populations.”
“From those who live in remote or conflict-affected areas, to those who face enormous stigma in reaching services – Access to Health Fund aims to support the government and ethnic health organizations to reach everyone,” he added.
Gail Marzetti, Head of UK Aid in Myanmar, said that although health statistics in the country can be alarming, solutions are at hand.
“In Myanmar, one in three children are stunted. At least 1,900 pregnant women and 48,000 children under five die from preventable causes every year. But, there is good news. The Access to Health Fund will work together with the Ministry of Health and Sports and ethnic health organizations to address these issues, implementing interventions based on lessons learned from the 3MDG Fund,” she said.
Through support to ethnic health organizations in close coordination with the Ministry of Health and Sports, the Fund will help bring services where they are most needed. Work will concentrate attention on conflict-affected areas, which government health providers may find difficult to reach and where available health services may be limited or of poor quality.
Access to Health will also dedicate funding and resources to continued work in strengthening the health system, and sustaining and building on the gains achieved by the Fund’s predecessor, the 3MDG Fund.
Teresa McGhie, USAID Mission Director, highlighted the benefits of bringing key donors together in a single fund.
“This multi-donor mechanism will increase aid effectiveness, achieve scale, pool risks, and provide coordinated support to country priorities,” she said.
The achievements and lessons of the 3MDG Fund were recognized by Head of Office for Sweden, Anders Frankenberg: “People living in 3MDG-supported townships have a better chance to access the quality healthcare that they need – not just to survive, but to thrive.”
“Women have healthier, safer pregnancies with good nutrition and family planning services, and their babies are given the best chance at life,” he said.
The Access to Health Fund will support the Myanmar response to communicable diseases (Malaria, HIV and Tuberculosis) and mother and child health, and will also dedicate resources to supporting Myanmar’s health system through investments in human capacity, infrastructure and management systems.