The Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security has been working with the Government of Myanmar and partner organisations to strengthen Myanmar’s capacity to prepare and respond to health security threats, including COVID-19.
In 2017, Myanmar undertook a Joint External Evaluation (JEE), which identified gaps antimicrobial resistance, preparedness, risk communications and emergency response operations. The Government of Myanmar developed a National Action Plan for Health Security for 2018-22. Myanmar undertook an assessment of the country’s veterinary services in 2009, and convened a Bridging Workshop to improve coordination between animal and human health in 2019.
The Centre conducted a Scoping Mission to South-East Asia in 2018, and these recommendations helped to inform priorities and propose areas for investment. In March 2019, DFAT opened a call for proposals for activities through the Pacific Infectious Disease Prevention (PIDP) and ASEAN-Pacific Infectious Disease Detection and Response (APIDDaR) programs and in 2020, partners commenced activities to prepare and respond to major health security threats, including COVID-19.
Australia is working to build health security capacity in Myanmar through regional programs including:
- A program to train volunteers and engage communities in outbreak surveillance and response, delivered by the Australian Red Cross together with the Myanmar Red Cross.
- Capacity building and field placements for field epidemiology, through the ASEAN-Australia Health Security Fellowships, delivered in partnership with the Australian National University and the Central Epidemiology Unit of Myanmar’s Ministry of Health and Sports.
- Funding to procure personal protective equipment and medical equipment for Myanmar’s Ministry of Health and Sport work to prevent and contain COVID-19.
- Laboratory capacity building, biosecurity training and twinning, in partnership with CSIRO’s Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness. Partners in Myanmar include the Yangon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the Mandalay Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
- Southeast Asia Laboratory Strengthening (SEALAB), to build capacity in public health and veterinary diagnostic laboratories through national quality assessments, plans of action, and testing guidelines for clinicians and veterinarians, delivered by the Mérieux Foundation, Australia’s National Research Laboratory (NRL) and the National Health Laboratory in Myanmar.
- Funding for collective action to eliminate malaria across Asia and the Pacific through the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA), and funding for the APLMA/APMEN Secretariat to deliver advocacy and outreach and providing policy guidance.
- Support for Myanmar’s national medicines regulatory authority through the Indo-Pacific Regulatory Strengthening Program to improve the impact and safety of medical products, in partnership with Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration and Myanmar’s Food and Drug Administration.
- Training in surveillance and outbreak investigation for veterinarians and the para-veterinary workforce, delivered by the University of Sydney and Charles Sturt University.
- A program to strengthen public health emergency operations, including developing response plans, operating procedures, enhancing surveillance, case management and contract tracing, implemented by PSI.
- Volunteer deployments with partner organisations in Myanmar through the Health Security Corps, including roles to build laboratory capacity.