Myanmar is the second largest producer of opium and a major source of heroin globally. Injecting opiates has become a common and dangerous drug use behaviour which can cause high levels of dependency and the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV and viruses that can cause hepatitis. Available data indicates that there are 75,000 people who inject drugs (PWID) in Myanmar. In 2012, the National AIDS Program presented data that indicated the prevalence of HIV among people who inject drug was 18 per cent.
The project fills gaps in access to harm reduction services in the Mandalay and Sagaing Divisions. These regions are experiencing an emerging drug use, particularly opiate injecting behaviour among young people, students, migrant workers and transport workers. Young people and others in these areas experience easy availability of drugs, peer pressure, an unstable local political situation, lack of job opportunities and poor motivation. All these factors are leading to an emerging use of illicit drugs.
This project will establish and deliver a number of activities including; Needle and Syringe Programs through a Drop-In Centre (DIC), HIV testing and counseling for PWID and their sexual partners and target groups, promote behaviour change, refer relevant clients to methadone maintenance treatment (MMT). These activities use advocacy and education to strengthen the environment to improve the quality of services provided through the health system.
A needs assessment was conducted during the inception phase to ensure services were youth friendly and gender sensitive. The needs assessment also reviewed the needs of secondary groups including the sexual partners of people who use drugs (PWUD), families of all drug users and youth who are especially vulnerable to drug use.
Both primary and secondary target populations are reached through a community based outreach model. This model includes a drug-user-friendly DIC, with a special emphasis to include female PWID by engaging female outreach workers and female peer educators.
A case management approach that involves PWID, drug users, MMT clients and ex-drug users has been initiated. The community based outreach model is coordinated by Burnet field staff in the townships. Technical direction and supervision is provided by Burnet’s senior staff in Yangon. Peer educators have been recruited from existing volunteer based groups including the National Drug User Network (Myanmar), Myanmar Positive Women Network Group, Myanmar Positive Group.
January 2014 - December 2017