Mountains, Bridges & Barricades: The Challenges of COVID-19 Prevention in Myanmar’s Naga Self-Administered Zone
In Myanmar’s restive and remote Naga Self-Administered Zone (SAZ), there are only two medical doctors to serve the needs of an estimated 130,000 people. In April 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic threatening communities across Myanmar, Community Partners International (CPI) supported local civil society organization the Eastern Naga Development Organization (ENDO) to raise awareness of COVID-19 risks and prevention measures in 108 remote villages in five townships: Lahe, Leshi and Nanyun in the Naga SAZ, and the neighboring townships of Hkamti and Pansaung.
Community Partners International (CPI)’s Myanmar team has been busy supporting conflict-affected, hard-to-reach and under-served communities across Myanmar to establish and maintain COVID-19 prevention and response activities. Here are some of the ways that CPI has been mobilizing to help our ethnic and community-based health organization partners in the past few weeks.
On March 24, Myanmar announced its first two confirmed cases of COVID-19. The day before, with the supply of hand sanitizer diminishing rapidly and the retail price rising fourfold in a short period of time, Community Partners International (CPI)'s Myanmar team started to produce it in their office in Yangon. It was already clear that the network of community-based clinics and health workers serving hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people in displacement camps, remote communities and urban slums across Myanmar would struggle to source sufficient quantities of hand sanitizer to meet their needs. By sourcing the raw materials early, and producing it themselves, CPI's Myanmar team planned to help bridge the gap and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
CPI Distributes Essential Medical Supplies to 180 Clinics across Myanmar to Support COVID-19 Preparedness
On April 3, the basement of Community Partners International (CPI)'s office in Yangon was converted into a packing station to prepare packages of essential medical supplies for 180 clinics across Myanmar. The packages will help clinics to bridge gaps in essential needs and replenish medicine stocks for the coming two to three months as part of COVID-19 preparedness.
Community Partners International's founder and Board Chair Dr. Tom Lee is an Emergency Room Physician working on the front lines of the COVID-19 response in Los Angeles. In this blog post, he reflects on the challenges he has seen in the last few weeks as the U.S. struggles to cope with the COVID-19 outbreak, and shares his concerns about the potential impact of the pandemic on countries with fragile health systems like Myanmar and Bangladesh.
"There is a tendency during times like these to look inwards – to our families and to ourselves. But we must also continue to look outwards – to our friends, our communities, our country and the world."