In January 2016 the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNAIDS carried out an in-depth review of the current status of Tuberculosis and HIV in Myanmar and of the collaborative activities implemented to address these diseases. The review was conducted in close collaboration with the National Tuberculosis and AIDS Programmes of the Ministry of Health, and with financial support from USAID and the Global Fund against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Myanmar has made impressive progress in the fight against HIV and TB, being successful in halting and reversing the spread of the diseases in line with the 2015 Millennium Development Goals. However, despite these progresses, tuberculosis and HIV remain two major public health threats, condemning many to premature death, unnecessary suffering and economic losses. If then these two diseases infect patients at the same time, the physical and economic burden can become unsustainable – and the mortality rates increase dramatically.
Co-infection of TB and HIV was responsible for around 4,100 deaths in Myanmar in 2014 out of the estimated 32,000 deaths for all TB forms; the country ranks as ‘high-burden’ for both TB and HIV incidence, and has a high rate of HIV-TB co-infections. To address this, the World Health Organization and UNAIDS recommend 1) a strong collaboration between the National TB and AIDS Programmes, aimed at strengthening the mechanisms for delivering integrated TB and HIV services; 2) measures to reduce the burden of TB in HIV-infected individuals, and 3) measures to reduce the HIV burden amongst TB patients.
In light of these policy requirements, the Ministry of Health is stepping up the efforts to tackle the combined epidemic of HIV and tuberculosis in Myanmar. WHO and UNAIDS support the call for improved coordination between all partners involved in the national TB and HIV response. In particular, all doctors – public and private – should strive to link TB and HIV patients to the free diagnosis and treatment services made available by the Government of Myanmar and their implementing partners.
The key recommendations of the review shared with the Ministry of Health focused on the importance of strengthening collaboration between HIV and TB National Programmes, through improved information sharing, joint procurement and adequate deployment of human resources. Furthermore, increasing and decentralizing the number of health facilities which provide joint screenings and treatment of patients for HIV and TB at all levels of the health system (through scaling up of services and employing mobile teams particularly in high burden areas) would be central to ensure that these diseases are timely detected, properly treated and further reduced. Lastly, engagement with all partners – including the private sector – would boost the effectiveness of health policies by devising and implementing innovative service delivery strategies.
For more information, please contact:
WHO Communications Consultant firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms Krittayawan Tina Boonto
UNAIDS Officer In Charge email@example.com