Stopping the Spread of Drug-Resistant Malaria
From 1962 to 2011, Myanmar was a closed country, isolated from the international community. After a civilian government was installed in 2011, Myanmar began a slow reemergence. It is increasingly opening its doors to the rest of the world.
For the past several years ARC has been on both sides of the Thailand-Myanmar border, fighting the spread of drug-resistant malaria. The emergence of this virulent strain of the disease poses a significant public health risk, as many remote communities have limited access to health services. ARC works with previously inaccessible, transient populations in Southeast Myanmar, fighting against malaria and providing economic opportunities for both internally displaced people and returned refugees.
A Shared Border
One of the most critical fights in the battle against drug-resistant malaria can be found at the border of Thailand and Myanmar, where high volumes of migrant workers travel between the countries. We currently offer services at 14 border points where we diagnose and treat these workers, helping to contain the disease and promote education. These outposts are like lemonade stands in the jungle, each one at accessible points where migrants can stop for quick, convenient checks.
Before they leave, we provide them with an insecticide treated mosquito net, a highly effective tool in preventing malaria. We also learn as much about them as we can. If we understand health behaviors and how people are accessing services, we can better respond to, treat, and prevent further spread of the disease.
Co-creating a solution
In January 2013, ARC began working with the Myanmar government and local ethnic organizations to co-create a 5-year plan intended to stop the spread of drug-resistant malaria. Since then, we’ve been making huge strides in collaborating with these agencies.
We’ve reached previously uncovered regions in Myanmar with malaria diagnosis services, education campaigns on malaria prevention, and insecticide-treated mosquito nets. Community based organizations have been crucial to helping us access these affected communities, and we have worked closely with local ethnic leaders to shape the most effective strategies to reach them.
Toward a self-reliant future
ARC recognizes the importance of not only providing much-needed malaria diagnosis and treatment, but helping communities towards self-reliance. We focus our efforts in capacity building by training local staff on service delivery, health management information systems, supply chain management, leadership, and governance. We also work closely with local community based organizations, helping them to conduct malaria prevention campaigns and to provide health care services. Strengthening infrastructures, we are building Myanmar’s defenses against present and future outbreaks.
I am so proud of our cross-border malaria teams in Thailand and Myanmar, who are working to reduce the spread of drug resistant malaria and paving the way for a brighter future.
- Molly O’Bryan, Health Technical Advisor
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Yangon, Hpa-An, Mawlamyine, Kawthaung
108,000 people helped