Focus on Myanmar

We have been working in partnership with the Church in Myanmar since 1853.

The Church of the Province of Myanmar has six dioceses.

Population: 48.8 million (UN, 2007)

Languages: Burmese, indigenous

Religion: Buddhist 89%, Christian 4%, Muslim 4%, animist 1%, other 2%

Export: Natural gas, wood products, pulses, beans, fish, rice, clothing, jade and gems

High adult literacy (91.9%)

200,000 - 570,000 HIV positive, but there is poor access to anti retroviral treatment (ART)

Government support for basic services is unreliable; many communities are relying on themselves and on the church


In Myanmar, we are working with communities to support rural health and provide clean water

Training volunteer health workers

The current focus of our partnership with the Church of Myanmar is on training volunteer health workers to reach out to remote rural parts of the country, with a particular focus on isolated and marginalised communities.

We are working with the church in all six dioceses in the church and are helping to support 270 health workers. In many cases the volunteers are a community’s only access to healthcare.

The health challenges in Myanmar are immense. Myanmar (also known as Burma) is ranked 145th on the UN’s Human Development Index of 187 countries. Despite the country recently opening up to more outside influence, the country still has one of the world’s most under-resourced healthcare systems. This is especially so in rural areas – home to 70 per cent of the population – where access to health facilities for ordinary people is extremely scarce.

Malaria, although avoidable with nets, is still the leading cause of sickness and fatalities; and TB is a big problem, especially drug-resistant TB and TB linked with the spread of HIV.

The health workers are given regular training and are provided with some medical supplies to distribute to the communities they serve.

Meet Christina

Christina supports the health volunteers in the Diocese of Toungoo. The distances she needs to travel are huge and journeys are usually long and difficult. The communities she visits live in basic conditions.

She recalled travelling to Nambo village where she met a mother of three children; the youngest just 18 months old. The mother was struggling to look after her children as well as working to bring in an income. Typically, when she went to work, she would leave the children unsupervised. Christina discovered that the youngest child was often left in the cattle shed and had ingested cow dung. She told the story of one young child who would often be left unsupervised while her mother went out to work so she could feed her family. As a consequence, the child was badly infested by worms and was extremely poorly.

Christina was able to give treatment. The child survived and the mother was given support so she could take better care of her child.

We are committed to supporting ongoing training for Myanmar’s volunteer health volunteers, helping them to treat common causes of sickness as well as emphasising preventative health by stimulating communities to tackle concerns together.

WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) programme

This programme, which is being run in the Dioceses of Hpa-an, Yangon and Mandalay, is giving communities access to safe water and improving sanitation and health.

The programme also seeks to promote community resilience to disasters.

All programme areas are rural settings where water is both scarce and typically not safe to drink, so communities suffer from poor sanitation and hygiene.

WASH brings clean water to villages by improving the infrastructure, such as installing water pipes and water tanks and building latrines.

In addition, training is given in water management, hygiene, the effects of climate change, and dealing with climate-related emergencies and disasters.

Through these interventions, local communities now have access to water for their own use and for livestock and agricultural purposes, leading to better health due to a decrease in water borne diseases.

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USPG is supporting a five-year strategy of the Internal Province of West Africa.

The strategy will address investment, governance, communication, post-Ebola reconstruction and livelihoods in The Gambia.


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