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.
Essential Medical Supplies and Emergency Funds for Community Clinics
In early April, CPI mobilized to provide 180 community clinics operated by 16 community-based partners across Myanmar in Kachin, Kayin, Mon and Shan States with packages of essential medical supplies to help bridge gaps and replenish medicine stocks for the coming two to three months as part of COVID-19 preparedness.
The packages contained masks, gloves, goggles, boots, non-contact thermometers, pulse oximeters, hand sanitizer, disinfectant, a selection of essential medicines and medical supplies, information materials to raise community awareness of COVID-19, and megaphones to broadcast key messages. Check out this blog post for the full story: https://www.cpintl.org/field-notes--updates/cpi-distributes-essential-medical-supplies-to-180-clinics-across-myanmar
Also in April, CPI established COVID-19 emergency funds for 166 community-based clinics in Kayin, Mon and Shan States operated by the Burma Medical Association (12 clinics), the Back Pack Health Worker Team (52 clinics), the Karen Department of Health and Welfare (42 clinics), the Karen Ethnic Health Organizations Consortium (26 clinics), the Mon National Health Committee (1 clinic), the Pa Oh Peace and Development Committee (3 clinics) and the Shan Health Committee (26 clinics). Under this initiative, each clinic can draw on a dedicated fund to support various emergency needs related to COVID-19 response. These needs include the purchase of additional medicines and supplies for COVID-19 response, transportation and food costs incurred in referring suspected COVID-19 cases to hospital, clinic disinfection costs, and communications costs for clinic staff.
Coordination between Government and Ethnic Health Providers
In late March, CPI organized an online meeting attended by representatives from the Myanmar Ministry of Health and Sports (MoHS) and 24 ethnic and community-based health organizations to coordinate their COVID-19 response. At the meeting, participants discussed the dissemination of the COVID-19 Contingency Plan, coordination for referral of suspected COVID-19 cases, the availability of essential supplies, CPI’s plan for technical support to ethnic and community-based health organizations, and the development of a mobile application for real time data reporting of suspected COVID-19 cases. CPI is continuing to facilitate coordination to support COVID-19 preparedness and response.
Preparedness and Response Training
On March 30, CPI launched a series of three full-day online training sessions for community-based health organization partners across Myanmar as part of ongoing efforts to support their COVID-19 preparedness and response. The sessions were attended by 170 participants from 22 organizations and provided a comprehensive and shared baseline of understanding for COVID-19 preparedness and response for clinical and training staff.
The sessions began by examining the national COVID-19 contingency plan prepared by the Ministry of Health and Sports (MoHS) and considering how ethnic and community-based health organizations could align with and contribute to this plan. Participants then learned about key COVID-19 messaging for community awareness raising and how to conduct COVID-19 community surveillance and contact tracing to detect possible cases.
Participants received guidance about the clinical management of COVID-19 including prevention, screening, triage and referral, case management and quarantine. They learned about management of atypical pneumonia, home care, the dos and don'ts for mild cases and during the quarantine period, and infection prevention. They also considered how to include specific vulnerable populations in COVID-19 response, such as people with disabilities, internally displaced persons, pregnant women and children, the elderly, and people with chronic underlying health conditions.
The sessions also covered practical aspects such the correct usage of masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE), how to make hand sanitizer according to WHO guidelines, and how to disinfect clinic spaces effectively.
Risk Communication and Health Information
CPI has also been helping community-based partners throughout Myanmar to provide health information and advice to communities on COVID-19 including how to protect themselves, how to spot symptoms, and what to do and where to seek health care if they suspect they are infected.
With CPI’s support, community partners have developed information materials and distributed them to communities as posters and through megaphone announcements.
In the approach to the Burmese New Year Holiday, “Thingyan”, CPI supported the development of a song and animated music video, “Stay at Home” that featured key messaging about preventing the spread of COVID-19. The song accompanied a social media campaign launched on Facebook and Tiktok. Check out this blog post for the full story: https://www.cpintl.org/field-notes--updates/stay-at-home-cpi-supports-music-video-to-help-prevent-covid-19-spread-in-myanmar
Suspected Case Surveillance and “Point of Entry” Screening
One significant concern for communities in Myanmar’s border areas is the return of significant numbers of migrant workers from neighboring countries where confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been identified. For example, in late March, many thousands of Myanmar migrant workers crossed from Thailand into southeastern Myanmar as Thailand began to lock down and close its borders. This led to large crowds at border crossing points, and crowded public transport, as workers returned home. The concern is that this large movement of people could result in clusters of COVID-19 outbreaks in rural areas.
In response, CPI is helping ethnic and community-based health organization partners to launch community-based COVID-19 surveillance through their clinic and health worker networks. This will help health workers to screen migrants returning to their communities and visitors to community clinics, and identify and refer suspected COVID-19 cases for laboratory testing, care and quarantine.
CPI has developed a suite of tools and resources to assist partners to develop community-based COVID-19 surveillance. These include a mobile app that enables health workers to collect anonymized COVID-19 suspected case data which can be uploaded in real time to a centralized dashboard, and a series of training videos delivered via Facebook that cover the set-up of the surveillance system and usage of the app.
As of April 16, CPI's team has completed online COVID-19 surveillance training sessions with health workers in 10 community clinics. In the coming weeks and months, CPI will continue to assist ethnic and community-based health organizations across Myanmar to establish and operate COVID-19 community surveillance systems alongside a suite of other technical, financial, and material support to help prevent and respond to COVID-19.
CPI is also helping to train and support ethnic and community-based organizations to roll out COVID-19 screening at key points of entry (POE) in their coverage areas. CPI conducted training workshops for POE screening with health workers who are now cascading this training through their organization and setting up POE screening sites. CPI also distributed essential equipment and supplies including non-contact thermometers, COVID-19 information posters, training materials, gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, and megaphones to assist this initiative.
Donate to support CPI's COVID-19 Emergency Response in Myanmar and Bangladesh:
CPI's COVID-19 Emergency Response activities are made possible with financial support from CPI's private donors, the Access to Health Fund, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and the Myanmar Humanitarian Fund.