Malaria Consortium’s Chief Executive, Charles Nelson, gave oral evidence in the House of Commons to the International Development Committee’s (IDC) inquiry into democracy and development in Myanmar (Burma) on the 17 December.
Whilst there has been remarkable progress in Myanmar since 2010, it remains one of the poorest countries in Asia. The country is off-track for achieving many of the Millennium Development Goals and has some of the highest rates of malaria, tuberculosis and malnutrition (especially among children) in the world.
The IDC inquiry was set up to examine the key areas of the UK’s Department for International Development’s (DFID) programmes, including health, wealth creation and governance. With DFID’s bilateral aid programme set to increase from £31m in 2010-11 to £60m in 2013-14, Myanmar represents a key emerging priority.
Among the countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion, the highest burden of malaria is reported in Myanmar where the disease is still the leading cause of morbidity and mortality. Suspected resistance to artemisinin – the best known drug for malaria – has also been detected in certain border areas. Containment of artemisinin resistance continues to be a priority for Malaria Consortium, and Myanmar is critical in determining whether or when this resistance will spread from Southeast Asia to Africa, which would be devastating to the fight against malaria.
Giving evidence to the IDC, Mr Nelson said:
"Myanmar has a huge contribution to make to the world. If drug resistant parasites get out of the Southeast Asia region then that could be an absolute disaster for Africa and there is a contribution to be made by Myanmar to the global fight against that happening. Investment that allows them to have the surveillance necessary to do that and the health programmes in place that responds appropriately to the finding of resistant parasites must not be missed right now.”
This oral evidence session follows on from a written submission to this inquiry in October for which Malaria Consortium provided evidence on relevant health issues in Myanmar. The Committee will now make their recommendations to DFID for the UK’s future programme focus in the country.
Read Malaria Consortium’s full written submission here.
Watch the full evidence session below or on Parliament TV, here. The main section on malaria begins at 10:55:00.