Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Shan State Govt Has Less Than $360,000 Left in Budget to Fight COVID-19 Pandemic

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The Shan State government does not have any separate funds designated to prevent and treat the coronavirus, and will rely on what remains in its disaster management budget, a minister has said. 

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Photo by SHAB – Shan State Goverment

Dr. Myo Tun, the state minister for social affairs, told SHAN on Wednesday that the government had already spent around one-third of its annual disaster management fund of 800 million kyat (US$575,000) on other crises, and around 500 million kyat (less than $360,000) remains for costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic 

“There was no COVID-19 when we were drafting budget for the 2020 fiscal year,” Dr. Myo Tun said. “That’s why we don’t have a separate fund for COVID-19 in Shan State. But we have a budget for a disaster management funding. We are going to use it to fight COVID-19.” 

At the time of reporting, there did not appear to be a known plan to allocate funds from different parts of the budget to combat the coronavirus in Shan State. 

Burma has formed a COVID-19 response team headed by military-appointed Vice President Myint Swe. It is tasked with investigating possible coronavirus infections, implementing quarantines, and ensuring medical support is provided.

Neighboring Thailand announced on April 2 that it would dedicate 10 percent of its budget from all ministries to a central fund designated to fighting COVID-19 in the country. Singapore is committing $55 billion to fighting the virus, or more than 10 percent of its GDP. 

According to official estimates, Shan State is home to just under 6 million people. There are more than 100,000 internally displaced people living in makeshift camps in northern Shan and Kachin states in crowded conditions often without sufficient food and access to healthcare, leading to questions of how the virus can be prevented from spreading through these vulnerable communities.

The social affairs minister said that 89 people are being monitored for the virus in Shan State. Seventy-seven people have tested negative. One patient suspected of having it has been quarantined, and another tested positive. Twelve more are awaiting lab results. 

The Ministry of Health and Sport reported 16 confirmed cases of coronavirus throughout Burma on April 1, and one death from the illness. 

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