One quarter of Myanmar’s estimated 55 million people live on less than $2 per day. The United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index ranked Myanmar as 149 out of 186 countries in 2013. The health sector has yet to catch up to the rapidly expanding economy. Total health spending from all sources is less than 2.5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. However, matters are changing drastically; a market economy and broad government reforms are emerging since the 2011 transition to a civilian government.
PSI has operated in Myanmar since 1995 and is one of the largest NGOs in the country, delivering significant health impact in nearly all 331 townships. PSI/Myanmar is based in the country’s former capital and its commercial center, Yangon, with eight project offices nationwide.
Its work addresses the largest contributors to Myanmar’s burden of disease: HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea, reproductive and maternal health. It also works in reproductive health matters.
PSI provides primary health services in 210 townships through its Sun Quality Health franchise network. The network is comprised of more than 1,500 private medical doctors that PSI/Myanmar trains and monitors on reproductive health services as well as treatment for malaria, tuberculosis, pneumonia, diarrhea, HIV and sexually transmitted infections. In addition, PSI supports the Sun Primary Health network of more than 2,000 village health workers.
PSI’s Targeted Outreach Program operates 17 drop-in centres nationwide, providing counseling and clinical services to populations most at risk of HIV, such as men who have sex with men and female sex workers.
Its nationwide network of private retail outlets distributes essential health products through social marketing techniques. These products include condoms, contraceptives, oral rehydration salts, water purifier products, and treatments for HIV, STIs, malaria, tuberculosis, and pneumonia.
PSI/Myanmar creates powerful campaigns based on evidence to motivate consumer behavior change. These campaigns are executed through mass media and interpersonal communications.
HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections
PSI/Myanmar’s HIV and STI program is comprehensive, consisting of prevention, care and treatment, aimed at low-income, at-risk populations.
The Targeted Outreach Program, consisting of interpersonal communications conducted by peer outreach workers, is the largest community-led intervention in Myanmar. The project reached more than 40,000 female sex workers and 44,000 men who have sex with men in 2013, and performed more than 20,000 HIV tests for most-at-risk populations. The Targeted Outreach Program also operates 17 drop-in centers through Myanmar for female sex workers and men who have sex with men. The drop-in centers provide an extensive range of free clinical services for key affected populations in an integrated package of care, including sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, HIV counseling and testing, antiretroviral treatment services (directly or through referrals), directly observed short-court treatment for tuberculosis, reproductive health services, cervical cancer screening and treatment, and opportunistic infection services.
PSI/Myanmar distributes eight condom types via social marketing under the brand name “Aphaw” (“companion” in the Myanmar language). In 2013, it sold more than 24 million condoms at subsidized prices through the private sector, accounting for 83 percent of the commercial condom market.
Through private providers involved in PSI/Myanmar’s social franchising network, the following are offered:
- Syndromic management of sexually transmitted infections,
- Provider-initiated testing and counseling targeted at bridging populations and tuberculosis patients, and
- Antiretroviral treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS.
PSI/Myanmar provides tuberculosis diagnosis and directly observed short-course treatment, the international standard of care for tuberculosis treatment. Tuberculosis drugs are available free of charge from select Sun Quality Health private providers clinics throughout Myanmar. To further promote active case detection, Sun Primary Health community health workers refer suspected cases to nearby Sun Quality Health clinics and serve as treatment adherence observers. PSI/Myanmar incorporates provider-initiated testing and counseling methods to increase the number of suspected and confirmed tuberculosis cases that are tested for HIV.
PSI/Myanmar also leverages the active case detection rate in urban slum areas through two innovative channels — interpersonal communications and pharmacies.
In 2013, more than 73,000 individuals with suspected tuberculosis were screened for the disease, and more than 22,000 cases were registered for treatment at Sun clinics. Altogether, PSI addressed 15 percent of the national burden.
A total of 17,000 individuals with suspected tuberculosis were also tested for HIV in 2013; the positivity rate among these clients was 7 percent.
For more than a decade, PSI has provided a wide range of family planning products and services to women in Myanmar through its network of private health providers, village health workers and pharmacies. In partnership with the government and local organizations, PSI continues to increase access to quality short- and long-term contraceptive methods to women in need and to build the capacity of the private sector to offer related products in more than 200 townships in Myanmar. In 2001, when PSI started its Sun social franchise network, the contraceptive prevalence rate in Myanmar was 37 percent. Private sector provision of family planning services at that time was highly limited, with most services provided through public health centers and government extension workers – and only to married women in limited geographical areas. By 2009, contraceptive prevalence had increased to 46 percent, in large part due to PSI’s program that provides millions of family planning products and more than 1.5 million reproductive health consultations annually.
In recognition of the rising mortality rate of women in Myanmar from cervical cancer, PSI has piloted a cervical cancer prevention program whereby women of reproductive age can be screened using a low-cost but highly effective method known as visual inspection with acetic acid. Those with pre-cancerous lesions are referred for appropriate treatment and follow-up.
For children younger than age 5 in Myanmar, PSI/Myanmar addresses the top two causes of death: pneumonia and diarrhea. PSI provides treatment to children for both illnesses through its network of skilled providers. It implements communications campaigns targeting caregivers on the symptoms of pneumonia and diarrhea and the need to seek appropriate care. PSI also socially markets related products, namely antibiotics for pneumonia and oral rehydration salts and zinc for diarrhea in children.
To reduce diarrhea among children, PSI/Myanmar has begun a household water treatment program and a hand-washing program.
To address under-nutrition, PSI/Myanmar implements a behaviour change program with women of reproductive age on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding.
PSI is at the forefront of global efforts to contain antimalarial drug resistance, recently indicated on the Thailand/Myanmar border. As a major implementing partner of the Myanmar Artemisinin Resistance Containment framework, PSI delivers appropriate interventions at national scale in the private sector, contributing more to reducing malaria-related disease burden than any other non-governmental organization in the country.
Health impact and resistance containment is primarily achieved through two private sector channels: a formal network of general practitioners and village-level primary health workers who are trained, supervised and directly supplied by PSI, and a diffuse network of informal providers, such as pharmacies, itinerant drug vendors and general retail stores. These private sector agents are supplied with subsidized treatment by major pharmaceutical distributors with extensive reach across Myanmar.
The formal Sun social franchise network supported by PSI/Myanmar contributes to a general reduction in disease burden through qualified practitioners. In 2013, the Sun franchise tested approximately 350,000 suspected malaria cases and treated an estimated 50,000 confirmed cases.
The mono-therapy replacement project in the informal private sector has driven a rapid change in quality combination treatment access. From the start of the intervention in October 2012 through 2013, approximately 1.3 million treatments were delivered through this innovative subsidy mechanism and more than 200,000 cases ofPlasmodium falciparum malaria were treated.
In 2013 PSI/Myanmar conducted a pilot in six townships to determine the plausibility of utilizing rapid diagnostic tests in the private sector to diagnose malaria. The results of this pilot are informing a nationwide rapid diagnostic test scale-up that is expected to reduce drug wastage, alleviate drug resistance risk to artemisinin-based combination therapy (the gold standard for malaria treatment) partner drugs, and improve overall case management practices.
- United Kingdom Department for International Development
- The Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
- Three Millennium Development Goal Fund
- U.S. Agency for International Development
- Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund
- United Nations Population Fund
- Procter & Gamble
- Good Ventures
- Marie Stopes International
- World Vision
- Save the Children
- FHI 360
- Management Sciences for Health
- Malteser International
- Medecins sans Frontieres (Holland)
- Medecins du Monde
- Private sector partners: Telenor, Ooreedo, AA Group Limited, PolyGold
- Trusted yet Troubled: The Role of the Health Provider in Responding to Gender-Based Violence in Myanmar
- Leading mHealth into the Smartphone Age in Myanmar
- A total market approach for condoms in Myanmar
This article in Health Policy and Planning presents research from Myanmar, where a total market approach was proposed in order to improve efficiency in the market for condoms.
- Cases supplement on the Total Market Approach
PSI sponsored two articles in a special supplement on the total market approach (TMA) in the Cases in Public Health Communications and Marketing journal. The first recounts PSI's experience in the markets for male condoms in Myanmar and Vietnam, and the second proposes a universal set of indicators to measure the success of TMA initiatives.
- Cost-effectiveness of using a social franchise network to increase uptake of oral rehydration salts and zinc for childhood diarrhea in rural Myanmar
This study examines the cost-effectiveness of a PSI initiative in Myanmar that promoted the use of an oral rehydration solution and zinc supplementation through social franchising.
- Ad for PSI/Myanmar’s Orasel Kit with Mother Bird
Ad for PSI/Myanmar's Orasel Kit to treat and prevent diarrhea for children under 5 years old.
- Social Franchising Evidence
As an evidence-based model, social franchising puts high quality healthcare within the reach of people in need around the world. This report showcases results from four studies led by researchers from PSI, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and Johns Hopkins University, which demonstrate how social franchising networks, like PSI/Myanmar's Sun Quality Network, improve the quality of health service delivery and health outcomes at-scale, cost effectively and equitably.
- One Woman’s Battle with Cervical Cancer May Help Save a Neighborhood
Cervical cancer is the leading cause of death among young women in the developing world. In some countries, a vaccine is available that dramatically reduces women’s chances of getting the disease. However, where the vaccine is not available, there is a highly effective process called “screen and treat” which has a great track record of success at a very low cost. Read about the treatment and one doctor in Myanmar who's working to make a difference on PSI Impact blog.
- Equity and the Sun Quality Health Private Provider Social Franchise: comparative analysis of patient survey data and a nationally representative TB prevalence survey
With the Global Health Group at UCSF, Myanmar Ministry of Health and WHO, we conducted a study to determine whether the Sun Quality Health social franchise was effectively reaching its goal of serving the poor. The study found that SQH patients in urban areas were poorer than individuals with TB in the general population, suggesting that the franchise successfully reached the poor.
- Seize This Moment: Lining Up to Eliminate a Major Threat to Humankind
Why Malaria, Why Southeast Asia, Why now? PSI Senior Vice President for Malaria Control and Child Survival Dr. Desmond Chavasse addresses those question in this three-part blog series about his recent trip to Cambodia and PSI’s work to eliminate drug-resistant malaria in Southeast Asia.