Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) show a collapse in routine immunization coverage of children in Myanmar (Burma) between 2020 and 2021. We talk to a representative of a community-based partner organization supported by Community Partners International (CPI) about the situation she is experiencing on the ground in conflict-affected areas of southeast Myanmar, and the potentially devastating impact this could have on vulnerable communities.
Between 2012 and 2020, Myanmar (Burma) made extraordinary gains against malaria. The number of confirmed cases fell by almost 88% and the reported number of deaths fell by 98%. In 2020, only 10 deaths in Myanmar were officially attributed to malaria. This was the result of a coordinated multi-stakeholder prevention, control and elimination strategy supported by sustained local and international investment. But these gains are now under threat due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the February 2021 coup.
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.”
Voices From the Pandemic: “Thirty to forty people in our village died from a lack of oxygen, including my grandmother.”
“My grandmother’s blood oxygen level dropped to 80% and she couldn’t eat or drink. At the end, she was so weak that she couldn’t breathe from the oxygen tank. Losing a family member in front of my eyes really made me understand the danger of COVID-19.”
In early October 2021, Elizabeth’s whole family came down with COVID-19 in their village in Ayeyarwady Region, Myanmar. The country was in the midst of a devastating third wave that killed many thousands of people. The health system, already shattered by political unrest, was overwhelmed.
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.
For Rohingya refugees in Kutupalong Refugee Camp, Bangladesh, cholera is an ever-present threat. The cramped and crowded conditions, limited access to water, sanitation and hygiene services, and seasonal flooding create an environment in which cholera can quickly take hold. Rohingya volunteers supported by Community Partners International (CPI) and local partner Green Hill are assisting a cholera vaccination campaign that has successfully reached 96% of refugees in their catchment areas since October 10.
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.
In April, conflict in Chin State, western Myanmar, pushed villagers over the border into India where the Delta variant of COVID-19 was spreading rapidly. Soon after they returned, COVID-19 cases in Chin State began to spike. Due to Myanmar’s ongoing political crisis, the local public health system had little capacity to respond. Community Partners International (CPI) and local partner the Hualngo Land Development Organization (HLDO) mobilized to provide COVID-19 prevention and care to people in desperate need.
Community Partners International Meets With the President of Pakistan to Donate Oxygen Concentrators and Discuss COVID-19 Response
On August 30, 2021, Community Partners International (CPI) representative Ms. Anam A. Ali met with Dr. Arif Alvi, President of Pakistan, to present oxygen concentrators and brief the President on CPI’s charitable activities to support Pakistan’s COVID-19 response.
Living in crowded and cramped conditions, Rohingya refugees sheltering in Bangladesh are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. On August 10, 2021, amid a worrying spike in infections, the Government of Bangladesh launched the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign for refugees over 55 years of age in Kutupalong Refugee Camp. As the first line of health care, volunteers supported by Community Partners International (CPI) and local partner Green Hill mobilized to encourage and support eligible community members in Camps 1W and 4 to take up the vaccine.