In two weeks, a school-age child somewhere in the mountainous region of Thaton, Myanmar will hold out their hand and receive a tiny white pill. They’ll take a gulp from a cup of water, swallow it, and then move on with their day.
It’s a simple transaction that lasts five seconds, but this routine provision of medicine has big implications for the health and development of Myanmar.
Neglected tropical diseases like elephantiasis currently pose a risk to more than 80 percent of the population of Myanmar. Common among people living in poverty, these diseases often cause or worsen health conditions like anemia and malnutrition, which affect large portions of the population in Myanmar. The country is one of the poorest among its neighbors in the South/Southeast Asia region.
That’s why last year we supported the training of hundreds of community health workers who helped to deliver donated medicine to millions of people in schools and homes around the country.
This September, we’re doing it again. With support from END7 as well as other development partners like the World Health Organization and pharmaceutical companies like GlaxoSmithKline, the government of Myanmar is leading a mass drug administration campaign that will reach an estimated 22 million people with treatment.
Despite many challenges, Myanmar is making substantial progress in controlling and eliminating NTDs. Lack of available resources to implement the program is the primary challenge now, and this is something we can change.
Burmese Nobel Laurete and chairperson of the National League for Democracy in Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi once noted, “We will surely get to our destination if we join hands.” We know that there’s a brighter future for children in Myanmar if they’re free from NTDs.
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