In 2022, Community Partners International (CPI) funded scholarships for 17 members of ethnic and community-based health organizations in Myanmar (Burma) to study for a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree course at Khon Kaen University’s Faculty of Public Health in Thailand. Against the backdrop of Myanmar’s coup, rising conflict, and deteriorating health system, we hear from four of the graduates about how their studies will help them to support essential health services for vulnerable and conflict-affected communities.
For people living with HIV (PLHIV) in Myanmar (Burma), the February 2021 coup and ensuing turmoil are endangering the health services they rely on for survival. We speak to community health workers supported by the USAID HIV/TB Agency, Information and Services (AIS) Activity providing a lifeline to PLHIV during this crisis.
On World Mental Health Day, we speak to community members in Kachin State, Myanmar, about the critical role of mental health and psychosocial support in harm reduction and HIV prevention and treatment among people who inject drugs.
An ER Doctor’s Testimony: “Every shift can seem like a tragedy novel. We try our best to save every life we can.”
When Dr. Ashim started working at the COVID-19 Isolation Unit at Sadar Hospital, Cox’s Bazar, in late 2020, Bangladesh was in the midst of a severe wave of COVID-19. “The pressure was very intense,” he explains. “We were overwhelmed with the number of patients. We had 20 beds but we were receiving more than 40 patients each day. We had to turn some patients away because we didn’t have enough space. The Emergency Department was also full.”
On January 2, 2022, five days after the first confirmed cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant were detected in Myanmar, a new oxygen generation plant supported by Community Partners International and the Access to Health Fund opened at a facility operated by the Karen Department of Health and Welfare (KDHW) in Hpa-An, Kayin (Karen) State.
Moments after the health post’s doors opened for the very first time on Thursday, December 2, 2021, eight-year-old Omme came in with her father Abul. She was suffering from abdominal pain and fever. The doctor on duty saw Omme immediately and provided care. “Everyone is helpful here,” remarked Abul. “The doctor listened carefully and gave my daughter medicine. I am happy.”
In late August, Community Partners International (CPI) and local partner Green Hill broke ground on a new health post in Camp 1W of Kutupalong Refugee Camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Scheduled to open by the end of October, the health post will offer free primary health care services to Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi host communities in the surrounding area.
"I feel that I am doing an important job for my community. No matter how hard it is, somebody has to do it. In this case, it’s me." Tofayel, Rohingya health volunteer
As Bangladesh experiences a spike in COVID-19 cases, there is rising concern for the 700,000+ Rohingya refugees from Myanmar sheltering in Kutupalong Camp, Cox’s Bazar District. Cramped living conditions and limited access to health services make them especially vulnerable. Community Partners International (CPI) and local partner Green Hill are supporting Rohingya volunteers to trace contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases and help to contain the spread of the virus within the refugee community.
COVID-19 moves fast, and ever faster as new, more infectious variants emerge. This creates challenges for all public health systems but especially those in low-resource settings like Nepal. In these contexts, the ability to track resource needs and gaps in an accurate and timely way and deploy limited resources efficiently becomes even more crucial in the race to save lives.
Seeking to address these challenges in Nepal, Community Partners International (CPI), the blockchain tech company Ibriz and design agency Kazi Studios have created an open online platform called Relief Connect - reliefconnect.org.
On May 29, 2021, Community Partners International’s first shipment of 130 high-flow oxygen concentrators to Nepal touched down at Tribhuvan Airport in Kathmandu. Sourced in the United States, and airlifted with assistance from Direct Relief, the concentrators will help the people of Nepal in their desperate struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic.