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Cablegate: Unfpa Proposes to Expand Its Burma Program

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 RANGOON 001323

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, I/O; PACOM FOR FPA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID ECON PGOV BM
SUBJECT: UNFPA PROPOSES TO EXPAND ITS BURMA PROGRAM

REF: RANGOON 704

RANGOON 00001323 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary: At its September 13 Executive Board
meeting in New York, UNFPA plans to propose a new four-year
program for assistance in Burma that expands its current
projects into new areas, including emergency obstetric care
and expanded HIV/AIDs prevention, according to UNFPA's
representative in Burma. This proposal would broaden much
needed healthcare assistance to vulnerable populations inside
Burma. We recommend supporting the proposal with the
condition that UNFPA report annually to the Executive Board
on its activities inside Burma; the proposal in its current
form does not have this requirement. Given the uncertain and
increasingly restrictive operating environment in Burma,
strict monitoring and regular reporting is necessary to
ensure that UNFPA's funds are spent as intended without GOB
interference. End Summary.

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Focus on Maternal Care and AIDS Prevention Will Remain
--------------------------------------------- ---------
2. (SBU) In a meeting with econoff, UNFPA Burma
Representative Dan Baker described the new program of
assistance for Burma that the Executive Board will consider
in New York on September 13. The current program for Burma
will expire at the end of 2006. UNFPA's new proposal will
continue to focus on reducing maternal mortality and
preventing the spread of HIV through reproductive health
information and services. UNFPA currently works in 100
townships and spends half of its funding on capacity building
of township-level public health service providers and on
behavior change education. These programs focus primarily on
midwives, mothers, and youth. UNFPA also supplies health
supplies to 112 townships and INGOs, including PSI and Marie
Stopes International, and spends a small amount of money on
data collection and research.

3. (SBU) The new program will add emergency obstetric care to
UNFPA's program and expand its HIV/AIDs services to include
men who have sex with men (MSM), one of the groups identified
in the October 2005 UNAIDS review as being most at risk, yet
not covered in the current program. Baker noted that this
step reflects progress in GOB thinking, as government
officials previously would not acknowledge that this group
existed. UNFPA will coordinate its work with MSMs through
community-based organizations and NGOs. Baker reported that
the Minster of Health and officials at the Ministries of
Immigration and Population Planning pledged to support
UNFPA's efforts to assist this vulnerable group. The
emergency obstetric care initiative will also include
HIV/AIDS counseling, testing, and drug treatment for
expectant mothers, aimed at reducing mother-to-child
transmission of HIV/AIDS.

Funding and Controls
--------------------
4. (SBU) Baker said that UNFPA Burma expects to receive up
to $5 million per year from 2007 through 2010 from UNFPA and
new donor money, an annual increase of $1 million over
current levels. Baker stressed that UNFPA has tight fiscal
controls and only releases funding to its implementing
partners for new projects when spending on completed projects
is fully reconciled. To ensure that its funds are not
diverted by GOB authorities, local employees travel to health
stores around the country to monitor UNFPA supply deliveries.
Field monitors have yet to find any discrepancies. Baker
said that UNFPA expat staff still regularly receive GOB
approval to travel to their project sites around the country,
although it now takes about three weeks longer to receive
permission than in previous years.


RANGOON 00001323 002.2 OF 002


5. (SBU) Comment: Despite increased GOB restrictions on INGO
activities in general, UNFPA Burma continues to carry out its
activities with minimal interference and provides valuable
assistance to vulnerable populations inside the country.
UNFPA monitors its programs closely to ensure that neither
funds nor supplies are diverted to the GOB or its satellite
organizations. However, the uncertain climate for UN
agencies and NGOs in Burma make regular monitoring and
reporting requirements more important than ever. We noted
that the new proposal omits an annual reporting requirement.
We should support UNFPA's proposal to expand its Burma
programs, but insist that UNFPA continue to report annually
to the Executive Board on its activities inside Burma. End
comment.
VILLAROSA

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