The B.K. Kee Foundation and other philanthropists have set up a $1.1 million match fund to help save lives in Myanmar (Burma) in the midst of a catastrophic surge in COVID-19 cases. The fund will double-match donations to Asia-focused California nonprofit Community Partners International's Myanmar COVID-19 SOS campaign while match funds last.
Myanmar's COVID-19 crisis parallels the recent tragedy in India – overwhelmed hospitals, dire oxygen shortages and people dying in their homes without access to care. However, in a further cruel twist, the February military coup and ensuing unrest have triggered an almost total collapse of Myanmar's public health system, accelerating and deepening the crisis. Many areas of Myanmar are now beset by active conflict, making COVID-19 response even more difficult.
On July 30, the UK Government warned the UN Security Council that half of Myanmar's population could become infected with COVID-19 within two weeks. With just 2.8% of the population fully vaccinated as of August 6, the country is fatally vulnerable to the highly infectious Delta variant. Though little COVID-19 testing is being done in Myanmar, test positivity rates of 30% and higher indicate the vast scale of this latest surge.
Dr. Thomas J. Lee, Founder and Chair of Community Partners International's Board of Directors, underlined the extreme urgency of the situation. "Thousands of families across Myanmar are watching helplessly as their loved ones die in front of them. Bodies are piling up in crematoria. There is a very short window now to act and save many thousands of lives."
Drawing on its twenty-three years' experience and deep partnerships with local communities across Myanmar, Community Partners International is supporting grassroots efforts to provide COVID-19 care in the absence of a functioning public health system.
"Community members and local organizations all over Myanmar are stepping up to try and fill the health care void," explained Dr. Lee. "They have the experience and trust from the community to function in this deeply unstable context. Community Partners International is committed to helping them in any way that we can."
Community Partners International is deploying funds raised through this campaign to support a range of emergency needs including the distribution of oxygen concentrators, the construction and operation of oxygen plants, support to community-based medical teams, and equipment and supplies for community-based COVID-19 care centers.
Stan Sze, President of the San Francisco Bay Area-based B.K. Kee Foundation that is contributing $500,000 to the match fund, urged people to give generously at this critical time. "In California, and all across America, we know all too well the terrible impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on families and communities. As Myanmar stares into the abyss, we can bring lifesaving assistance to people in desperate need. Please donate and the match fund will help to triple your impact."
On September 13, 2021, the match fund was fully utilized, with $550,000 in donations to Community Partners International's Myanmar COVID-19 SOS appeal double-matched by the B.K. Kee Foundation and anonymous philanthropists to raise a total of $1.65m to help save lives in Myanmar. Donations (unmatched) can still be made to the appeal here: https://www.cpintl.org/myanmar-covid-sos