Along both the rural countryside and urban zones of Myanmar, HIV/AIDS ravages many people who are unable to access proper treatment. Fortunately, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria will disburse a US$160 million funding package to Myanmar to specifically combat HIV/AIDS. The Global Fund, an organization working towards the eradication of the three major pandemics of our generation-AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria-will be distributing US$160 million over the course of 2013-2016, according to the Myanmar’s Ministry of Health.
Previously one of the most isolated and oppressive states in the world, Myanmar now has begun reform efforts and started to open up to Western influences. When it was uncooperative with the international community, it received limited funds and relied heavily on organizations like Doctors Without Borders (MSF) to carry out health care treatment and other assumed government functions.
Despite continuing to rely on MSF, Myanmar has been receiving incremental increases in funds, most notably from 2009 onward. A correlation between recent reform efforts and funding as total disbursements can be seen in the jump from over US$10 million in 2009 to more than $47 million in 2010. This increase has risen steadily up to nearly $161 million in the following three years, growing over 16 times its budget from just four years prior. The sudden jump in funding for Myanmar’s HIV victims comes from the Global Fund’s pull-out in 2005 after government restrictions and its resumption in 2010 following an easement on restrictions.
This influx of HIV/AIDS funding in Myanmar is more than welcome as only 43 percent of the population that needs treatment received it in 2012. To truly understand how low this is, Myanmar’s regional neighbor, Cambodia, has properly provided antiretroviral therapy (ART) for over 94 percent of its citizens eligible for the treatment. The most effective response, ART, is provided by MSF and other healthcare organizations and consists of a minimum of three antiretroviral medications that will suppress and stop the spread and progression of the HIV virus.
While some claim this funding will help Myanmar treat all of its citizens affected by the virus, the head of MSF’s mission in Myanmar, Peter Paul de Groote views it through a more realistic lens. According to de Groote, despite Global Fund’s money improving financial capabilities, “the overall availability and capacity for enrollment needs to improve – by looking into better treatment models and implementing increased, decentralized care and treatment.”
– Michael Carney