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Myanmar’s National Health Laboratory (NHL) began life as l’Institut Pasteur in 1903. Like many other Burmese health facilities, it has become run down and lacks the appropriate infrastructure to perform essential duties.
Risks of large-scale epidemics

As a result, Myanmar, like other Southeast Asian countries, lacks the means to ensure surveillance and diagnosis of infectious diseases. This means that outbreaks risk becoming full-blown epidemics (such as dengue, zika, and H5N1).

That’s why Agence Française de Développement (AFD) is supporting upgrades and capacity-building project for the NHL and the network of Burmese public laboratories. Developed in partnership with Institut Pasteur and the Mérieux Foundation, this project is benefiting from a loan of €22 million from AFD and from grants of €5 million from the European Union and €300,000 from the Mérieux Foundation.

NHL’s activities are currently scattered among several buildings. Its operations will be concentrated and rationalized at one modern building that will provide improved safety and more efficient working environments. 

In addition, the public laboratory of Mandalay, in the center of the country, will also undergo some renovation.

Support from Institut Pasteur will help boost NHL’s ability to carry out diagnostics and applied research. Use of the new facilities will focus on two main priorities: strengthening NHL’s technical and organizational capacity, and improving performance.

NHL’s leadership role

An additional goal is to help NHL fulfil its leadership role within the network of Burmese public laboratories. The project will help guide the institution in its tasks of coordinating, supervising, monitoring, and training for Myanmar’s health facilities.

The opening ceremony for the project was held on September 27, 2019, with the French ambassador, the European Union ambassador, and the Permanent Secretary of Myanmar’s Ministry of Health in attendance.

The content of this article is the sole responsibility of AFD and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the European Union.