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Yangon, Myanmar - The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) delivers 40,000 COVID-19 rapid antigen test kits to the Ministry of Health and Sports to support the Government of Myanmar’s effort to prevent transmission and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic efficiently while ensuring continuity of life-saving sexual and reproductive health services for women and girls.

The official handover of 40,000 test kits was organized at Department of Medical Research in Yangon on 24 December 2020. Dr. Hlaing Myat Thu, Deputy Director General of Department of Medical Research received the UNFPA’s donation of the COVID-19 Antigen Test Kits from Mr. Ramanathan Balakrishnan, UNFPA Country Representative for Myanmar.

As part of the coordinated UN response to COVID-19 pandemic, UNFPA works closely with MOHS on the COVID-19 responses through the MOHS-UN Joint Task Force on COVID-19.  UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive agency, is working with government & non-government partners to strengthen health systems and ensuring availability and accessibility of quality sexual and reproductive health services in any kind of emergency context, including COVID-19 pandemic. The UNFPA response to the COVID-19 pandemic involves a multi-pronged approach: ensure safety and wellbeing of healthcare providers; equip them with skills and knowledge to ensure continuity of lifesaving quality health care using digital platform; support continuation of sexual and reproductive health services by government and non-government partners; maintain and update ongoing Logistics Management Information System to ensure commodities security and incorporate COVID-19 related stock into the systems in close collaboration and coordination with MOHS and other UN agencies. With an aim to ensure essential health systems continuity, particularly with respect to sexual and reproductive health services, UNFPA has handed over more than 10,000  PPE kits to both Government and Non-government front-line service providers.

Dr. Hlaing Myat Thu, Deputy Director General of Department of Medical Research said, “Early detection and containment of COVID-19 positive cases is still an essential and extremely important process in order to cut the chain of transmission and effectively control the spread of disease.”

UNFPA's Rapid Antigen Test Kits procurement delivered at MOHS' Central Medical Store Depot in Yangon.                    Photo © UNFPA Myanmar

The role of Rapid Antigen Tests (RDTs) in Myanmar has grown significantly and has strengthened the MoHS capacity to test cases with COVID-19 symptoms, patients under investigation, patients in quarantine centres, people in urgent medical need and those who have contact with a known COVID-19 patient. “As the results of a Rapid Antigen Test are available within 30 minutes, it is of advantage that decisions can be made much more quickly and infection contained effectively in the nick of time. Thus, the importance and requirement of these Rapid Antigen Test kits are truly an evidence-based reality,” Dr. Hlaing Myat Thu added.

The expansion in testing has been very instrumental in Myanmar getting a grip on the COVID-19 situation after the peak of second wave during September-October 2020. “As the Government of Myanmar engages with the COVAX facility to source COVID-19 vaccines in 2021, the fight is far from over. This is a marathon and we need to continue to remain cautious, vigilant, creative and proactive to reach the finish line. 40,000 test kits, while a significant number, may not be much compared to the daily testing numbers; But, every drop counts..”, said Mr. Ramanathan Balakrishnan, UNFPA Country Representative for Myanmar.