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Trip Report: Mapping Progress Made in Myanmar and Sri Lanka

As we kicked off the Myanmar trip, we were pleased to see great government commitment towards the mapping project. Here we are being briefed when we arrived on May 8th with the Regional Health Director officially opening the meeting. The National Leprosy Coordinator also traveled to Mandalay for this meeting.

In May of this year, our staff traveled to Myanmar and Sri Lanka to support neglected tropical disease (NTD) mapping efforts in the region.

AIM Initiative Program Director Emmy van der Grinten, Technical Advisor Paul Saunderson, and Hope Simpson, a Geographic Information System (GIS) expert, visited Myanmar to attend a Ministry of Health Steering Committee Meeting and work with the team on reviewing and updating data from the Mandalay State.

The Steering Committee Meeting showed Myanmar’s leadership in the project. The Director General, the Director of Disease Control, the Deputy Director of Administration and Finance, and the National Leprosy Coordinator all attended, discussing a variety of important targets and goals in Myanmar’s elimination of NTDs.

While data collection was initially planned for six hyper-endemic regions, we were pleased to learn that mapping will extend to cover the entire country, ensuring a more complete data set. The initial data include leprosy, with plans to add lymphatic filariasis and trachoma to the final mapping exercise. The Director of Disease Control is very interested in the recently developed generic survey protocol to contain surveys after the initial baseline mapping of routine surveillance data.

While the AIM staff were in Nay Pyi Taw for the Steering Committee Meeting, the GIS expert, Hope Simpson, was supporting the regional/national team while they were working on the data of Mandalay Region.

The AIM team later joined GIS expert Hope Simpson to continue to work with the Mandalay team. Preliminary maps were produced on leprosy. Data collection and geo-referencing for the rest of the country are planned for completion by August 2017. A GIS training has been scheduled for September 2017.

Shortly after the Myanmar trip, AIM Program Director Emmy van der Grinten traveled to Sri Lanka to discuss NTD mapping with the Ministry of Health. During the meeting with the Anti Leprosy Campaign (ALC), part of the Ministry of Health dedicated to leprosy control, it was decided that the proposed mapping project in Sri Lanka would include leprosy, lymphatic filariasis and leishmaniasis for a more complete NTD surveillance. This is in accordance with their new Leprosy Strategy, which focuses on mapping, integration with other NTDs, and establishing new partnerships to assist in control and elimination.

Overall, staff at all levels are dedicated to this project and we are eager to see their progress over the next few months. Here are Myanmar national staff, regional staff, Leprosy Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (LPEP) staff, American Leprosy Missions staff, and the AIM team.

Moving forward, the ALC plans on entering leprosy data from 2010-2016 and then expanding the scope of their mapping by including data on other NTDs. FAIRMED, a Swiss NGO, will be a vital partner in administrating and supporting the NTD mapping effort in Sri Lanka. We look forward to developing our mapping proposal and moving forward there!