Myanmar launches new strategic plan for AIDS response aiming to reach Universal Access targets by 2015

News and Press Release
Originally published

Multi-sector collaboration and partnership approach required to reach programme targets

Yangon, 1 June 2011 — Over 120 officials, development partners and civil society representatives, including high ranking representatives of government and UN met in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, to launch the National Strategic Plan (NSP) for AIDS covering the years 2011 to 2015. The Multi-Sector Workshop, hosted by the Ministry of Health was the first in a series of such workshop to be organized in different state and region in the country to raise awareness of the targets and priority HIV interventions defined in the new plan.

“I am glad to see that Myanmar is moving forward to expand the effectiveness and scale of its HIV programmes, with the new National Strategic Plan, by urging the involvement of all partners - Government, Non-Government Organizations, Community-Based Organizations, people living with HIV and self help groups, professional associations, and the private sector,” said Dr. Nafis Sadik, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General and his Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, in her opening remarks.

Dr. Nafis Sadik is currently on a three-day official visit to Myanmar, the delegation of UN visitors include Mr. Gary Lewis, Regional Representative of UNODC for East Asia and the Pacific and Mr. Clifton Cortez, Asia-Pacific Regional Practice Leader for HIV and Health of UNDP. The team met with the Minister of Health, H.E. Prof. Pe Thet Khin; Minister of Labour, Social Welfare and Relief and Resettlements, H.E. U Aung Kyi; Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Dr. Myo Myint; and other stakeholders, including people living with HIV, to discuss the AIDS work in Myanmar.

Despite limited resources, Myanmar has made remarkable progress in its national AIDS response. HIV prevalence among all key populations has begun to decline and more people are on ARV treatment. Myanmar remains a country with the third highest adult HIV prevalence and the sixth largest number of people living with HIV in Asia and the Pacific. However, HIV and AIDS remain one of the key public health challenges in Myanmar.

Participants at the Multi-Sector Workshop agreed on the strategies for scaling up effective programmes for HIV prevention, care, support and treatment. They also discussed ways to increase collaboration among all key stakeholders to accelerate the implementation of priority interventions set out in the National Strategic Plan.

“The Ministry of Health is committed to support the efforts of all partners and work in multi-sector partnership to reach program targets by 2015,” said H.E. Dr. Pe Thet Khin,
Minister of Health, at the opening ceremony of the Workshop.

“The collaborative efforts of all partners in developing the AIDS strategic plan and commitment shown today by many government sectors is one of the best examples in development work in this country,” said Mr. Bishow Parajuli, UN Resident Coordinator in Myanmar.

“Protecting the rights of people living with HIV and affected populations—including men who have sex with men, sex workers, and transgendered people—is not only the right thing to do, but is necessary to ensure that people are able to benefit from HIV services,” noted Mr. Clifton Cortez, Asia-Pacific Regional Practice leader for HIV and Health of UNDP. “We know from data in this region that the burden of care within HIV-affected households overwhelmingly falls on women, and the HIV-related special needs of women and girls must not be overlooked,” continued Mr. Cortez.

Harm reduction is one of the key areas that need to be expanded in Myanmar. “Services need to be designed in user-friendly ways so that they are more attractive for people who use drugs to have easier to access methadone and clean needles,” said Mr. Jason Eligh, Country Manager of UNODC in Myanmar.

Participants adopted a Statement expressing their commitment to redouble their efforts to the AIDS response in Myanmar and to reach the targets set out in the National Strategic Plan by 2015.

“I am encouraged to see everyone coming together and voicing their support to the AIDS response. It gives us new energy to continue to expand the AIDS programme in Myanmar” said Thiha Kyaing, Chair of Myanmar Positive Group, the national network for people living with HIV in Myanmar.

“If the government and international development partners commit to provide the needed resources for implementing the new strategic plan, Myanmar will most likely be able to maintain its achievement and scale-up service provision to reach NSP targets by 2015,” said Dr Sadik.

Implementation of the full NSP requires the budget of US$ 49 million in 2011 and US$ 85 million in 2015.

As of 2010, there are an estimated 236,000 people living with HIV in Myanmar.
According to the 2009 HIV Sentinel Surveillance data, HIV prevalence among female sex workers is 11.2%. People who inject drugs is 34.6%. Men who have sex with men is 22.3% and pregnant women is 0.96%. Out of the 76,000 people needing ARV treatment, 29,825 adults and children were on treatment at the end of 2010. Nearly one in three people who inject drugs; one in ten female sex workers; and one in five men who have sex with men are HIV positive. Out of the 76,000 people needing ARV treatment, 29,825 adults and children were on treatment at the end of 2010.

For further information:

In Myanmar:

Dr. Sun Gang,
UNAIDS Country Coordinator,
Tel: + 951 252361, 252362, 252498

In Thailand:

Emmanuelle Kunigk Communications and Resource Mobilization Officer United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Regional Centre for East Asia and the Pacific Tel. +66 2 2882091