Hong Kong’s celebrity singer and actor UNICEF Regional Goodwill Ambassador Miriam Yeung visits Myanmar and meets with children and women affected by HIV
By Sandar Linn
MONYWA, Myanmar, 8 July 2013: UNICEF Regional Ambassador for East Asia and Pacific Region and popular Hong Kong actor-singer Miriam Yeung visited Myanmar in the first week of July, promoting Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (PMCT) in Myanmar for UNICEF and partners.
Two sisters, Swe Swe* 9 and Wai Wai* 7, greeted Miriam at the network and invited her to join the network meeting.
The self-help group’s meetings are held regularly to share information and provide psychosocial support among PLHIV and peer counselors. It also shares updated information by AIDS/STD team, and reporting and monthly visit plan development for the next month.
“I much appreciated their warm hospitality from people even when they are facing hardship in their lives,” said Miriam.
The free blood test for pregnant women is part of the PMCT programme implemented by National AIDS Programme of the Ministry of Health, which was introduced in Myanmar in 2000 with the support from UNICEF.
UNICEF Myanmar’s PMCT programme support training to enhance the capacity of health staff including doctors, nurses, midwives and laboratory technicians working at various levels, and implement the standard PMCT service package according to the national guideline and standard operation procedure.
“I noted close family bonding. When I asked children about their dreams, some said they wanted to continue education to support their families. Like us, they believe that education can help change their lives,” said Miriam.
“Well functioning PMCT services are now available in 253 out of 325 townships in Myanmar yet there are gaps that must be addressed. This includes drop out after testing and at the post test counseling stage. Loss in following up on Early Infant Diagnosis for the babies born to HIV infected mothers; and weak linkage for HIV infected mothers to receive ART for themselves and paediatric ART for their HIV positive babies,” said Dr. Ohnmar Aung, UNICEF Myanmar HIV specialist, who accompanied the Goodwill Ambassador’s visit, “These areas need strengthening for quality PMCT programme for getting to zero new infection and zero AIDS related death. We also need to take a closer look at orphan and vulnerable children in relation to HIV and AIDS, it is largely linked to PMCT,” she added.
“I believe that education and advocacy to prevent and treat HIV is very important. Educating children HIV prevention is actually the first step to protect them from the infection. Also stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS is also an issue. Advocacy can help HIV affected to be accepted in their communities and allow them to live regular lives,” said Miriam Yeung.