Myanmar has a population of 51 million people. A recent national survey estimated that 3.5 million people are living with hepatitis B and another 1.1. million are living with hepatitis C. The country faces some major challenges in providing adequate screening and treatment for hepatitis. New medications for hepatitis C infections called directly acting antivirals (DAA) can cure up to 95% of people with minimal side effects. However, in Myanmar these treatments have not been widely available to date.
Hepatitis B Free has been a partner in a treatment program for 200 people in the city of Yangon with local NGOs – Medical Action Myanmar and Myanmar Liver Foundation – since 2017 with these new DAA medications. This program is nearing completion with preliminary results showing very satisfactory results. About 88% of those treated with DAAs have been cured of the disease. We continue to provide training, consultations, and visits to our sites 3-4 times per year.
In May, 2019 a team of doctors from Hepatitis B Free traveled to a new clinic site at Putao, located in the northernmost tip of Myanmar near the border with China. Rates of intravenous drug abuse are high in this region which has resulted in a “hot spot” of hepatitis C. We expect a treatment program to be up and running soon.