Statement by H.E. Mr. Kyaw Moe Tun, Permanent Representative/ Ambassador of Myanmar at the United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS (8 July 2021, New York)
It is an honour for me to deliver the statement at this High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS. Myanmar welcomes the report of the Secretary General on addressing inequalities and getting back on track to end AIDS by 2030. We also welcome the adoption of the political declaration. In this regard, we thank the co-facilitators, Ambassador Mitchell Fifield of Australia and Ambassador Neville Gertze of Namibia for their hard work.
This year 2021 marks 25 years of the commencement of the work of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) as a unique multi-stakeholder and multisectoral programme to lead the efforts of the UN system against the global AIDS epidemic. As such we commend the UNAIDS and the relevant UN agencies / institutions.
We share the view that there are still concerns over inaction in other places with expansion of HIV epidemics although there has been intensive actions and progress against HIV in some places. Moreover, The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the existing challenges on health system including HIV responses, and the people in need of health care services. It is imperative to re-energize the progress towards ending AIDS and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. I am confident that the recently adopted political declaration will serve for ending inequalities and getting on track to end AIDS by 2030.
At the occasions of the session of the United Nations General Assembly on Ending AIDS by 2030 and the Global Prevention Coalition during the World Health Assembly in 2018, Myanmar reaffirmed its commitment to work with the international community in the context of “ending HIV/AIDS as a public health threat”.
The elected civilian government launched in May 2017 the country’s Strategic Plan on HIV and AIDS (2016-2020). In line with the road map, the national plan adapted the Fast-Track Targets to the local context and has given special attention to key populations and relevant sub-populations in high disease burden areas.
Throughout those years, Myanmar could reach to significant in the prevention efforts of HIV. Up to 85% of people living with HIV in Myanmar are aware of their status, 91% of those who get access to treatment and 94%people on treatment have experienced substantial reduction in viral load.
During the hard time of the COVID pandemic, Myanmar has emphasized not only prevention of COVID-19 but also has maintained essential life-saving services for non-COVID diseases including mitigating measures to reduce the risks of HIV infections. The partnership with representatives of people living with and affected by HIV has also increased while Myanmar’s first Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) has been able to introduce as a major milestone to lever up its HIV prevention efforts.
The elected civilian government is committed all out efforts to enhancing human rights including the right to health for its entire people. Despite the challenges, the government has gained momentum in promotion of national health care system.
The military coup on 1 February 2021 has put all these efforts on hold and the brutal and inhumane acts of the military group against the civilian people in a systematic and targeted manner have continued until today. As of today, almost 900 people including women, girls and children have been ruthlessly murdered by the military.
Such violent and inhumane acts of the military have been threatening access to humanitarian services and life-saving essential services, including services for people living with and affected by HIV. Moreover, continued arrests of doctors, health care personnel and community volunteers by the military are alarming. It is in contradictory to the international conventions and norms. To continue procurement and essential life-saving services, it is paramount important that the safety and protection of health-care workers and community volunteers should be guaranteed under any circumstances.
While completely ignoring calls of the international community to immediately end all violence against civilians, the murderous military has been continuously violating the international laws and has not stopped its disproportionate and indiscriminate actions against the civilian population until today.
The coup has had a disproportionate effect on those people living with HIV. Medications have been in short supply, clinics have been closed; international and national NGOs have been forced to curtail or reduce their operations. It is the most vulnerable who suffer most under the dead hand of the military.
In conclusion, Mr. President, Right to health is a fundamental part of human rights. To be able to continue engaging and working constructively with the relevant UN agencies to achieve our common health agendas, and to be able to carry out life essential-services within the country for the betterment of the people, immediate end of all brutal and inhumane acts against the civilians and health care personnel by the military group is utmost important. Accordingly the international community must act now to stop it. I thank you, Mr. President.