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Cablegate: Insufficent Funding for Burma's Malaria Epidemic

VZCZCXRO6568
PP RUEHBZ RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHGO #0634 1901040
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 091040Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY RANGOON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6228
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0362
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 3909
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 7457
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 5010
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 3172
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0818
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

UNCLAS RANGOON 000634

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP AND IO; PACOM FOR FPA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOVPREL PHUM SOCI BM
SUBJECT: INSUFFICENT FUNDING FOR BURMA'S MALARIA EPIDEMIC


1. (SBU) Summary: Despite a gradual decline in morbidity and
mortality from malaria over the last 10 years, malaria continues to
be one of Burma's greatest health problems. As the GOB has done
little to provide the drugs and commodities needed to limit the
spread of the disease, most of the burden to treat and prevent
malaria in Burma falls on international organizations, such as WHO,
JICA, UNICEF and the 3D Fund. External funding for malaria
prevention and treatment will likely fall short in 2007 by an
estimated USD 3.2 million. The budget gap is expected to increase in
coming years. End Summary.

2. (U) Malaria continues to be one of the leading causes of
morbidity and mortality in Burma. WHO figures in 2005 place the
morbidity rate at 9.14/1000 population and the mortality rate at
3.08/100,000 population. Though statistics demonstrate an overall
decline in malaria since 1992, more than 38 million or 70 percent of
Burma's population continues to live in at-risk areas. WHO reports
that Burma contributed 8 percent of total malaria cases in the South
East Asia region, while contributing 58 percent of total malaria
deaths.

3. (SBU) Of the 178.5 million kyats (USD 150,000) the GOB allotted
for their malaria program in 2006-2007, 170 million kyat or 95
percent went to salaries and operational costs. This left only 8.5
million kyat (USD 7,000) or 5 percent for drugs and commodities to
treat malaria patients. External funding for malaria from UNICEF,
JICA, WHO and 3D Fund reaches approximately USD 6.6 million for
2007, according to WHO unofficial estimates. Of this an estimated
USD 4.4 million will fund drugs and commodities. This figure will
fall short of the estimated USD 7.6 million needed to pay for drugs
and commodities in 2007, leaving a budget gap of about USD 3.2
million. Unofficial WHO estimates have the budget gap increasing to
USD 4-5 million in 2008-2009.

4. (SBU) Border populations remain at highest risk, especially those
who engage in economic pursuits such as upland subsistence farming,
forestry, logging, bamboo cutting, and rubber-tapping. Capacity to
reach these populations with services and information remains
limited. WHO hopes to have a situational analysis of the Thai-Burma
border complete by the end of the year.

5. (U) WHO says that additional investments for malaria control in
Burma would help alleviate the shortage of anti-malaria drugs and
commodities. Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLIN), Insecticide kits
to treat the nets, and Rapid Test Kits (RTK) are in short supply.
Treated nets have proven to be an effective preventative measure.
Early diagnosis and treatment would also help reduce the spread of
the disease.

6. (SBU) Comment: The GOB's woeful under-funding for anti-malarial
drugs and commodities indicates their continued unwillingness to
confront and effectively combat the disease. The shortfalls caused
by the loss of Global Fund monies only increased pressure on other
external donors, rather than spark a government response. A
well-informed government source told us the Health Minister, who has
been cooperative with the UN and the INGOs, lacks the stature and
courage to argue the case for greater healthcare funding to the
senior generals. Thus, the critical healthcare needs of Burma's
people remain a low priority while the bridges and dams the generals
see as hallmarks of development get built. End Comment.
VILLAROSA

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