Improved Health Critical To Development Of Democracy In Burma

In this post in the Huffington Post Blog, Deborah Derrick, president of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, examines the role of health efforts in the rebuilding of Burma, also known as Myanmar. “According to the World Health Organization, the ruling military leaders’ investment in health is only two percent of GDP, among the smallest health budgets in the world,” she writes, adding, “An estimated 240,000 people in the country are living with HIV/AIDS, and there remains a high risk of malaria, with incidence of drug-resistant malaria spreading.”

“In a video address at the International AIDS Conference this July, [pro-democracy politician and Nobel Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi] highlighted the need to tackle HIV/AIDS in Burma and insisted that by strengthening the community’s response to HIV/AIDS, ‘we strengthen our chances of achieving democracy and of building up strong democratic institutions,'” Derrick notes, and writes, “As U.S. policymakers applaud the work of Suu Kyi and consider how best to address Burma’s needs moving forward, it is important to remember that improved health is critical to the development of democracy.” She notes “[t]he Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is already working in Burma to achieve these goals,” and discusses some of these efforts. She concludes, “There is still a lot of work to be done in Burma,” but “with a healthy foundation, and with continued strong support from the U.S., it can move toward building a stronger and more just society” (9/17).