On November 1 and 2, 2016, the B. K. Kee Foundation and the Liver Foundation (Myanmar) hosted the inaugural Myanmar Liver Symposium with support from Community Partners International (CPI).
Liver disease is a significant and neglected health issue in Myanmar. In 2015, the Liver Foundation (Myanmar), in cooperation with the Department of Medical Research and the Central Epidemiological Unit of the Department of Public Health, carried out a survey of hepatitis B and C infection (leading causes of liver diseases) in Myanmar. Of those surveyed, 10% tested positive for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or both, indicating that as many as five million people in Myanmar may be infected. Chronic hepatitis B and C are leading causes of cirrhosis and liver cancer. Myanmar has a significant liver cancer incidence (11/100,000), more the double the regional incidence in Southeast Asia (5.1/100,000).
The Myanmar Liver Symposium gathered together local and regional experts and other health professionals to exchange best practices, treatment protocols, and known data of chronic hepatitis B, C, D, and liver cancer. Chaired by Mindie Nguyen, MD, MAS, Associate Professor of Medicine and Senior Fellow at the Center of Innovation in Global Health at Stanford University, guests included leading liver disease specialists from world-renowned medical and research institutions, Myanmar Ministry of Health and Sports policy makers and representatives, Myanmar liver specialists, academicians and researchers, and local health practitioners such as obstetricians, gynecologists, pediatricians, and midwives.
In Myanmar, there is an urgent need to improve the linkage to care for patients with viral hepatitis. This will lead to better management and gradual elimination, and will, in turn, decrease the number of people who contract and die from liver cancer. Improving linkage to care will require focus on and investment in various factors where significant barriers to progress remain.
The Myanmar Liver Symposium provided a forum for these key stakeholders to explore these barriers and consider practical ways forward to better manage and eventually eliminate viral hepatitis in Myanmar. Key outcomes included:
CPI will continue to work with the Liver Foundation (Myanmar), the B. K. Kee Foundation and all stakeholders to combat the threat of viral hepatitis in Myanmar.