CAP-Malaria Project engages private sector in malaria control in Burma

As reforms stimulate economic growth in Burma, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Control and Prevention of Malaria Project (CAP-Malaria) managed by URC in collaboration with Save the Children and Kenan Institute Asia, is creating new partnerships with companies to control the spread of malaria. Many of these companies operate in remote and difficult to access locations that are beyond the reach of public health care services and have high rates of malaria and employ migrant workers from within the country and from neighboring countries. The workers often have no experience with malaria, have limited access to malaria services, and can potentially spread malaria to their home communities in less-endemic areas. CAP-Malaria is assisting companies to provide malaria education and long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs), early diagnosis, and treatment to their employees.

One of the project's partners is the Dawei Development Company Limited, working in the Dawei Special Economic Zone to build a deep sea port facility, an industrial park, a petrochemical complex, and a cross-border road link from Dawei to Thailand. So far, these activities have brought in over 50,000 migrant workers from other areas in Burma and from Thailand.

The workers are often unprepared for the high prevalence of malaria in the Dawei area. Malaria is particularly widespread during the rainy season, starting in late April. Working with the company's health team, CAP-Malaria is distributing long-lasting insecticide nets to prevent malaria infections, strengthening malaria services at clinics, and conducting outreach to diagnose and treat cases in remote worker sites.

Another key partner in the Tanintharyi region is Yuzana Company Ltd., which employs more than 50,000 mobile and migrant workers at the company's palm oil and rubber plantations and as lumberjacks. CAP-Malaria is strengthening the quality of services provided by the company's clinic by providing artemisinin combination therapies, rapid diagnostic tests, microscopes, and on-the-job training. To reach mobile and migrant workers in a plantation's remote areas, the project runs a mobile malaria clinic that includes a doctor, a team of microscopist, and a health worker, who screen and treat malaria cases. The clinic travels among the different residential areas scattered around the large plantation area, screening workers and their families for fever, testing for malaria, and providing treatment as appropriate.

CAP-Malaria has also set up malaria checkpoints to detect malaria cases among mobile and migrant workers departing the Yuzana area and the Kawthaung Township and returning to their home communities.

Reducing malaria in Burma is only possible through strong collaboration with the private sector.  Companies are well placed to ensure that vulnerable groups, such as their migrant workers, have access to LLINs for malaria prevention and to malaria services. Not only does this result in more productive employees but in the long run it will be significant investment in the future of the region.

Staff at a CAP-Malaria checkpoint in Kawthaung screen for and treat malaria. Photo by San Zin Oo, URC.
Staff at a CAP-Malaria checkpoint in Kawthaung screen for and treat malaria. Photo by San Zin Oo, URC.
Date 
May 01, 2013
Authors 
Dr. Kheang Soy Ty, URC Chief of Party, and Dr. May Aung Lin, URC Country Representative, CAP-Malaria Project
Regions/ Countries