In late May, and early June, 2018, health worker teams from the Karen Department of Health and Welfare (KDHW) embarked on a fourth round of vaccinations for babies, young children and pregnant women in contested and conflict-affected areas of Kayin State, Myanmar. These communities are remote and hard to reach, accessible only along dirt tracks through mountainous and densely forested terrain that become virtually impassable during the monsoon season. This is the story of one team’s journey to provide lifesaving vaccinations to three villages in Kyainseikgyi township.
With more than 900,000 Rohingya refugees living in tightly-packed shelters in Cox’s Bazar, and with many communities at high risk of flooding from the monsoon rains, access to clean water, hygiene and sanitation is crucial to reduce the risk of diarrhea, cholera and other dangerous diseases. As of June 21, 2018, two thirds of Rohingya refugees have access to safe water and functional latrines that meet the standards agreed by the Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG) in Cox’s Bazar. Community Partners International (CPI) is working with local partner Society for People’s Action in Change and Equity (SPACE) to help close the gap and ensure that all refugees have access to these basic needs.
As part of the USAID HIV/AIDS Flagship (UHF) project managed by UNAIDS through Community Partners International (CPI), project partner Metta Development Foundation (Metta) operates drop-in centers in Kachin and Shan States to support people who inject drugs (PWID) and people living with HIV (PLHIV). Alongside HIV testing and counseling (HTC), Metta utilizes a harm reduction approach at its centers, focused on minimizing the risks and harm associated with drug use. Harm reduction services include the Needle and Syringe Exchange Program (NSEP) for people who inject drugs (PWIDs). The centers also offer clients opportunities to participate in additional activities such as art therapy.
During a recent art therapy session at a Metta drop-in center in Kachin State, CPI spoke with clients about their paintings and their lives. These are the human stories of hardship and hope within the drug and HIV epidemics in Kachin State.
As Myanmar’s health system evolves and health providers work towards the achievement of Universal Health Coverage by 2030, securing adequate financing remains an enduring challenge. This is particularly true for ethnic health organizations that, despite providing the first line of health services to hundreds of thousands of people in conflict-affected, hard-to-reach and under-served areas of Myanmar, have not received to date any direct financing from the Government of Myanmar. Community Partners International (CPI) is working with two ethnic health organizations in Southeastern Myanmar on a pilot project to model a new approach to health financing in Myanmar: Strategic Purchasing of health services. The intention for this pilot is to inform and guide future financing agreements, and help ethnic health service providers to secure broad, reliable and long-term financing sources to support their lifesaving work.
For Rohingya women and girls sheltering as refugees in Cox’s Bazar, the shadow of gender-based violence (GBV) is never far away. While many have directly experienced or witnessed traumatic incidents during the recent violence in northern Rakhine state, the precarious circumstances and lack of protection that they experience as refugees continues to expose them to a high risk of GBV and human trafficking. Among Rohingya communities, as in many communities in Myanmar and elsewhere, stigma and cultural norms can hinder discussion and acknowledgment of these issues, making prevention and response more challenging. Survivors of GBV often have little or no access to support, and awareness-raising and prevention efforts can face resistance. Community Partners International (CPI) is working in partnership with Rohingya communities in Cox’s Bazar to find creative and innovative ways to break the silence around GBV, and support community initiatives that help ensure women and girls are protected from violence.