Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) have a crippling affect on the people of Myanmar, one of the poorest countries in Asia. A staggering 80% of the population is at risk for one or more of these parasitic and bacterial infections which can cause severe pain and disfigurement. Despite this, Myanmar is making progress in the fight against NTDs due in large part to an unprecedented and ambitious campaign that took place over just one week in September, 2013.
Our new video shows how thousands of health workers and volunteers came together to help end the burden of NTDs in Myanmar. Watch it here:
With the support of END7 and the World Health Organization (WHO), the Myanmar Ministry of Health protected more than 36 million people from lymphatic filariasis (LF) and intestinal worms.
The one-week campaign required careful coordination beginning with the national government and ending with local communities. First, the donated medicines arrived in country and were transported to more than 200 townships across Myanmar. For this program, more than 4,000 health workers and 90,000 volunteers were trained on how to distribute these medicines used to protect people from NTDs. Trainings took place in hospitals, and even in monasteries.
Once trained, the health workers carried out the large scale mass drug administration (MDA) by traveling door to door and visiting schools and community centers. They spent time talking to people about the importance of these medicines and the impact of NTDs. Teachers, community organizations, NGOs and other partners all played a big part in making sure that these medicines are distributed and helped protect families in Myanmar.
The result of this massive effort is millions of children like 7-year old Pwint Yamone Thin will be able to learn, play and be the healthy children they’re meant to be. It means that millions of mothers and fathers will not worry about losing their livelihoods due to debilitating illness or swelling of their limbs.
And the future looks promising. Plans for a 2014 MDA are already underway and Myanmar’s government plans to continue treatment until NTD transmission has stopped in all districts. Encouragingly, six districts in Myanmar have already completed the necessary number of MDAs to stop transmission of LF. If NTD treatment continues to be prioritized in Myanmar, the country can achieve its goal of eliminating NTDs by 2020. Lack of available resources to implement the program and the need for greater public awareness on NTD treatment and control are the primary challenges now.
Will you help raise awareness by sharing our video today? Together we can create a brighter future for millions of children in Myanmar.