Since 2016, we’ve been working with the NGO Health & Hope, the only one of our partners with a primary focus in South East Asia. It works in Chin State, Myanmar to train and equip community health workers to provide healthcare across a largely rural area, minimising the need for people to travel long distances to access help.

 

To contribute to our partner’s community-led health programme, we provide Health & Hope with a broad range of medicines, including antibiotics. In the last 12 months, we’ve sent out around 53,000 treatments in packs that provide a range of primary healthcare treatments for different medical needs: these help community health workers to treat patients suffering from minor illnesses and injuries. As well as supplying a mobile programme, our medicines go to Hope Clinic in Lailenpi, which treats nearly 2,000 patients each year. 

Our partner’s programme includes a series of workshops that provide specialist training to area coordinators, who oversee community health workers. This training includes safe use of medicines, instances in which certain medicines should not be used, and guidance about how to log and track prescriptions. A recent survey of people in nine villages showed that medicines distributed through our partnership with Health & Hope were often the only means of provision for villagers in the region.  

Medications may be available in local shops and pharmacies, at a high cost. While families in Chin State know how important health is, the purchase of medicine may mean having to go into debt. Across the whole of Myanmar, this issue of cost is a growing problem for households. Our provision of medicines through Health & Hope helps families to avoid debt: it also ensures people can be treated in time, improving outcomes and reducing the risk of secondary conditions. 

“We have a big vision, and we seek to build close relationships with partners who can help us achieve our mission,” Health & Hope told us. “Our partnership with IHP – an organisation with vital networks and expertise, sharing our values and mission – has enabled us to achieve so much more than we could manage on our own.”

At IHP, we’re delighted to support Health & Hope in an established programme with a huge impact across the region. “Its community health worker model is a novel approach and something that should be encouraged across the sector as the most effective way to deliver healthcare in remote areas,” says our programmes manager, Hannah Dean.

 

Revai is one of Health & Hope’s trained community health workers, living in a village called Pintia.

In this picture, he’s receiving pharmaceutical supplies, for which he expressed incredible joy and a deep sense of gratitude. Supplies are transported in rice sacks by motorbike and kept in secure boxes with medication guidelines.

Revai was trained by Health & Hope in 2009-2010 and since then has served his small village of 30 households, and surrounding community. He treats illnesses including typhoid, fever, diarrhoea, headache and abdominal pain. It’s also common for him to treat deep lacerations caused by motorbike accidents and injuries sustained while collecting firewood.

Revai told us how difficult it is to manage sick and injured patients without medications. Diagnosis is only part of the story for patients, he says, and without appropriate medicine, some will not get better. If the right medicines are not available, Revai will write down what he thinks is needed: it is then up to the individual or their family to source the right help. Even when money is available for payment, medication can be difficult to find. A large number of counterfeit products are sold at local markets, and any medicine bought locally carries risk.