Cooperative Efforts To Eliminate Malaria May Catalyze Political, Social Dialogue In Myanmar

Roll Call: Malaria as a Catalyst for Change in Myanmar | Commentary
Myaing Myaing Nyunt and Christopher Plowe, president of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and both public health scientists at the Institute for Global Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine

“In Washington, D.C., recently, more than a dozen senior officials and politicians from Myanmar, some from groups with histories of deep mutual distrust, joined together in an extraordinary effort: to eliminate malaria from their deeply fragmented country. … For Myanmar, this meeting is truly historic, a model for how to use science and medicine not only to solve important health problems, but also as a way to foster wider social and political change. … Eliminating drug-resistant malaria is … an important U.S. interest that should be protected from shifting political priorities … U.S. technical and financial support for malaria elimination in Myanmar and the Greater Mekong Subregion … should be strengthened and sustained, irrespective of the pace of peace negotiations, human rights improvements, and election outcomes in Myanmar. No one is predicting that Myanmar’s new coalition against malaria will produce a breakthrough in peace talks or a fully fair election. But there is no question that this alliance has the potential to become a catalyst for more dialogue, reconciliation, and social change — in Myanmar now, and perhaps in other troubled places in the future” (8/18).