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.
In June, Lian Pi*, 46, a local man living in Kale Township, Chin State, began to feel ill. He’d seen his father-in-law die of COVID-19 just days earlier. “I became so weak that I couldn’t even make it to the toilet on my own,” he revealed. His family rushed him to a health facility where he tested positive for COVID-19. The doctor told the family that his blood oxygen saturation levels were just 70%, well below the healthy level of 95% or more, but they didn’t have the oxygen supplies to treat him properly. Lian Pi’s life was in immediate danger.
"When I first arrived, the hospital only had three five-liter oxygen concentrators.” Lian Pi explained. “About five patients were taking turns using them. My oxygen level was so low that I nearly died while using a five-liter concentrator."
With CPI’s support, HLDO sourced lifesaving oxygen for Lian Pi. At first, he needed six oxygen cylinders each day as he struggled to breathe. Later, CPI provided 10-liter high-flow oxygen concentrators to the health facility to supplement Lian Pi’s and other patients’ oxygen needs. Gradually, with oxygen support and care, Lian Pi's condition improved. Today, he is fully recovered and back with his family. “It was such a frightening experience but I was amazed that the health facility was able to provide enough oxygen and medicines to treat everyone,” he said.
As well as oxygen concentrators and cylinders, CPI has provided 6,000 COVID-19 testing kits, personal protective equipment (PPE), N95 masks, contactless thermometers, disinfectant, and basic medicines to support COVID-19 response in Chin State. With CPI’s help, HLDO mobilized groups of youth volunteers trained by local medical doctors and nurses to conduct basic testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 under their guidance. The volunteers also support people during home quarantine, providing food and shelter as needed.
Community Partners International is supporting similar grassroots COVID-19 response activities across Myanmar. In the absence of a functioning public health system, these community-based groups are the first, and often only, line of COVID-19 prevention and care for Myanmar’s vulnerable communities.
The personal protective equipment (PPE) and N95 masks provided through this action were kindly donated by the Access to Health Fund.