The European Union is funding a EUR 1.43 million [2.2 billion MMK] project supporting older people and those with disabilities affected by COVID-19 in Myanmar, reaching five million people. The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Health and Sports and HelpAge International.
COVID-19 puts older people and those with disabilities at particular risk. Death rates are higher among older age groups due to a greater likelihood of underlying health conditions, such as heart and respiratory disease, diabetes and cancer, that cause potentially severe complications. Meanwhile, the pandemic has exacerbated difficulties accessing healthcare and regular incomes, which can disproportionately impact older people and those with disabilities who may already be struggling. As COVID-19 shuts down markets and curtails other ways of earning money, this inequality risks pushing hundreds of thousands of people into poverty.
In its COVID-19 response plan, the Ministry of Health and Sports has recognised the need for targeted measures to protect older people and people with disabilities. Through this new EU-funded project, HelpAge is providing direct support to enable communities to better protect at-risk-groups.
The project will provide personal protective equipment for care volunteers and around 3,600 front-line health workers, install hand washing facilities, establish and operate isolation wards for older people and people with disabilities, and continue to provide life-saving non-communicable disease screening and referral services at a time when accessing clinics is difficult. Together with the Ministry of Health and Sports, the project will run awareness campaigns about COVID-19 and inform people on how they can protect themselves. In cooperation with the Department of Social Welfare, the project will provide a one-off 30,000 MMK payment to 5,000 people with disabilities to help recipients and their families endure the economic impact of the pandemic.
"The European Union’s COVID-19 response specifically ensures the most vulnerable are not forgotten. We are therefore proud to show our solidarity through our work with the Ministry of Health and Sports and HelpAge International, and assist older people and those with disabilities during these difficult times," said Kristian Schmidt, Ambassador of the European Union to Myanmar.
"COVID-19 exposes inequalities that disproportionately impact older women and men and those with disabilities. This funding from the EU is vital in helping these at-risk groups across the country to not only take the right precautions to protect themselves from COVID-19, but also to give them access to income and healthcare," said Godfred Paul, Country Director, HelpAge International Myanmar. "We are looking forward to working with the EU and the Ministry of Health and Sports to support the Myanmar Government's existing COVID-19 response plans.