MSF teams continue to care for HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis C patients, provide basic healthcare and reproductive and sexual healthcare services, and to respond to medical emergencies.
We pioneered HIV treatment in Myanmar – at one point becoming the largest provider of antiretrovirals in the country – and steadily grew a large patient cohort. In 2015, we began working with the Ministry of Health to transfer patients to the decentralised National AIDS Programme, so people can receive care closer to home. This has been suspended since the military seized power, and we are now seeing those patients return to us in greater numbers at our clinics in Shan, Kachin and Tanintharyi.
Despite restrictions on humanitarian access to conflict-affected areas, we have mobile teams based in Sittwe and Maungdaw in Rakhine state, who offer basic healthcare. They also arrange emergency referrals for patients from all communities, including those forcibly detained in camps.
Our activities in 2020 in Myanmar
Data and information from the International Activity Report 2020.
During the year, we gained significant access in Rakhine and Shan states, which allowed us to reach people most affected by conflict.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to send mobile teams to several locations across Rakhine, including Mrauk-U in the north, to provide general healthcare and mental health support for internally displaced people. We also offered medical and logistical support to public hospitals, assisted the Ministry of Health and Sports with the management of quarantine sites and provided personal protective equipment to its staff.
HIV and hepatitis C
In June, we finalised the transfer of HIV-positive patients in Yangon to the national AIDS programme. Although some patients’ access to antiretroviral (ARV) drugs was interrupted due to restrictions on movements during the pandemic, our team in Shan state made home visits to deliver medication where possible. We closed our HIV clinic in Bhamo, Kachin state, at the end of December.
In Dawei, Tanintharyi region, we continued to treat patients with HIV, including those co-infected with tuberculosis and hepatitis C, focusing on key groups such as migrant workers, fishermen and sex workers. We adapted our projects to ensure continuity of care for patients in remote locations unable to reach our clinic, due to COVID-19 movement restrictions.
Healthcare in remote communities and urban areas
Since 2015, MSF had been providing general and specialist healthcare in Naga Self-Administered Zone, Sagaing region. Our team developed a community-based model of care, strengthened community health worker networks in Lahe township and supported referrals. In July, we handed over these activities to Medical Action Myanmar, a well-established organisation with whom we had been working informally for the past two years. We continued to support the health authorities in Dawei to respond to the seasonal dengue outbreak.