Myanmar’s Parallel Govt Forms COVID Task Force With Ethnic Health Agencies

By The Irrawaddy 22 July 2021

Myanmar’s parallel government has formed a taskforce with local health organizations in the country’s ethnic areas to prevent and control COVID-19 in cooperation with international agencies.

The 11-member COVID-19 Task Force (CTF) was formed on Wednesday and is led by Dr. Cynthia Maung, the founder of the Mae Tao Clinic, which has been providing basic healthcare services for internally displaced persons (IDP) and migrant workers for three decades in Mae Sot on the Thai-Myanmar border. She is also the chairperson of the Ethnic Health Committee (EHC), which oversees ethnic group-based healthcare service teams providing basic healthcare in their respective areas in Myanmar.

Dr. Zaw Wai Soe, the health minister in Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government (NUG), is the deputy head of the task force.

Pado Mahn Mahn, a spokesperson for the CTF, told The Irrawaddy the task force will focus initially on prevention and treatment of COVID-19 in collaboration with the NUG.

“The EHC has already been active in the country’s east and south as well as in other parts of the country. The NUG has resources like doctors. The collaboration could accelerate the prevention and treatment [of COVID-19],” he said.

The CTF will also work on vaccinations and a COVID recovery plan, he said.

He added that the task force is still discussing how to implement its vaccine program. One option is asking third parties like UN agencies to inoculate people under regime-controlled areas, he said.

“If we do so, we need to make sure that the regime would not interrupt it by imposing restrictions or arresting people,” he explained.

In order to achieve their objectives, the CTF has called for international assistance from UN agencies, international governments and INGOs.

Myanmar has been experiencing a deadly third wave of COVID-19 since last month. As of Wednesday, the country had reported more than 246,000 cases with 5,814 deaths.

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