Corporate Sector and Non-state Actors to convene in Yangon to discuss joint efforts to contain drug-resistant malaria

Corporate Sector and Non-state Actors to convene in Yangon to discuss joint efforts to contain drug-resistant malaria

The Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI),
The Myanmar Health and Development Consortium (MHDC), and
The Myanmar Business Coalition on AID (MBCA) to host
“Malaria Forum on Private Sector Response to Artemisinin Resistance in Myanmar”

(21 November 2013; Yangon, Myanmar) Approximately 200 private sector leaders, government officials and health and development experts are expected to gather at the UMFCCI Conference Hall in Yangon 25-26 November for the first ever private sector-focused conference to address drug-resistant malaria in the country. Supported by the Ministry of Health, the meeting is being organized by the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), in association with the Myanmar Health and Development Consortium (MHDC) and the Myanmar Business Coalition on AID (MBCA), to engage large private employers in efforts to control resistance to the most effective antimalarial medicine on the market – Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies (ACTs) – which has been identified in the country.

Throughout the two-day forum, participants will hear from health and development experts, government officials, donors and private sector leaders to identify and develop an accreditation scheme that would incentivize employers to act in support of the Myanmar Artemisinin Resistance Containment strategy (MARC) – which is based on the World Health Organization’s global Emergency Response to Artemisinin Resistance (ERAR). Co-chaired by Daw Khine Khine Nwe (Joint Secretary General, UMFCCI) and Mr. Martin Pun (Chairman MBCA), participants will also welcome the President’s Economic Advisor, Professor Dr. Aung Tun Thet, and other global and regional partners.

“MBCA and partners are pleased to facilitate this first malaria forum in Myanmar for corporate sector involvement. We hope that this meeting can serve as a platform in bringing together the private and public sectors to discuss how private sector and other non state actors can play a critical role in supporting malaria control and artemisinin resistance containment effort” said Mr. Martin Pun, Chairman of MBCA.

With rapid economic growth and increasing foreign direct investment in Myanmar, business and development ventures have attracted large local and foreign labor forces, many of which are financed through Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) arrangement. These large-scale infrastructure and business developments are key economic and health investment areas for the broader population, and with an increasingly mobile workforce, private employers stand to play a pivotal role in the advancement of public health strategies and policies by reaching populations at risk.

“The Roll Back Malaria Partnership welcomes this important initiative to engage the private sector to support the prioritization of malaria by the UN Secretary-General and to promote the WHO’s strategies to contain artemisinin resistance in the region,” said RBM Representative at the United Nations in New York, Mr. Herve Verhoosel. “With increasing economic investment in Myanmar bringing a mobile workforce to a country with nearly 17,000 malaria-related deaths each year, there is a serious risk that artemisinin resistance will spread. By investing in malaria, the corporate sector could protect the communities in which they operate and play a critical role in the success of containment efforts in the country.”

The Asia-Pacific region continues to carry the second largest burden of malaria globally – behind Africa – with 20 malaria-endemic countries accounting for approximately 30 million cases and 42,000 deaths each year. Myanmar carries one of the highest burdens of disease in the region, with more than half of the population at risk of infection.

The fight against malaria has forged one of the most effective global health initiatives, but the emergence of resistance to ACTs in areas of the Greater Mekong sub-Region threatens global progress. Artemisinin resistance has been detected in Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, and if it spreads to India or sub-Saharan Africa, the public health consequences could be dire, as no alternative antimalarial medicine is available with the same level of efficacy and tolerability as ACTs. With increased inter-country investment and an expanding ASEAN Free Trade Area, population movement continues to increase in the region and could quickly expand the geographic scope of resistance, posing a health security risk for many countries in the region that have ongoing malaria transmission.

In addition to addressing national, regional and global concerns, there is also a strong business case for the private sector to invest in malaria, including: maintaining a healthy workforce; improved access to markets; strengthened relationships with government decision-makers; support for long-term economic growth of new markets; expansion of distribution channels; development of stable and positive business conditions.

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Media Contact:
Ms. Liat Levy
Myanmar Business Coalition on AID
+95 9 310 44 191; liat.levy@mbconaid.org

Mr. Robert Valadez
The Roll Back malaria Partnership
+1 626 253 0997; rvaladez@rbmny.org
**From 23 November, Mr. Valadez will be reachable in Myanmar at +95 (9) 732 37852 or at the Trader’s Club hotel

MHDC is a locally established and managed firm with the aim to promote linkages with international and local networks and collaboration partners; capacity building; application of innovative approaches in
health; private-public partnerships; and resource mobilization efforts for health.

MBCA is a local NGO focused on private sector mobilization to involve the business community in the health sector, with the aim to mobilize local township businessmen into establishing independent township business coalitions.

UMFCCI is Myanmar’s largest not-for-profit business federation, representing 10,854 local companies, 1,656 enterprises, 770 foreign companies, 185 co-operatives and 2,898 individuals. In the
international arena, UMFCCI is a member of the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the ASEAN Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ASEAN-CCI), the (BIMST-EC), Greater Mekong
Sub-region Business Forum (GMS-BF), Joint Economic Quadrangle Committee (JEQC).

The Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM) is the global framework for coordinated action against malaria. Founded in 1998 by UNICEF, WHO, UNDP and the World Bank and strengthened by the expertise, resources and commitment of more than 500 partner organizations, RBM is a public-private partnership that facilitates the incubation of new ideas, lends support to innovative approaches, promotes high-level political commitment and keeps malaria high on the global agenda by enabling, harmonizing and amplifying partner-driven advocacy initiatives. RBM secures policy guidance and financial and technical support for control efforts in countries and monitors progress towards universal goals.