October 10, 2022

Reunion after a long time


After almost three years without foundation missions, the first team from Artemed Stiftung was able to set off again in September 2022 to Myanmar set off again. The joy of reunion on both sides was immense, albeit clouded by the current difficult political and economic situation in the country.

The abrupt interruption to the otherwise lively medical exchange activities at Myanmar came to a standstill with the lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020. For almost an entire year, Myanmar sealed itself off and did not allow any foreigners into the country. Just as the situation was easing due to the vaccination options, the military staged a coup on February 1, 2021, plunging the country into chaos. Travel to Myanmar was out of the question for over another year. It was not until May 2022 that the Burmese authorities resumed issuing visas, although the unstable political situation naturally led to great skepticism as to whether it would be possible to travel to the country again.

In September, a first vanguard of Artemed Stiftung consisting of Michael Kneis (Managing Director of two Artemed clinics in Augsburg and Munich), PD Dr. Michael Valet (Senior Consultant Neurology Tutzing) and Dr. Veronika Hofmann (Managing Director Artemed Stiftung) made their way to Myanmar to explore the situation and see with their own eyes how the country and the projects have developed.

The good news is that the foundation's projects are in excellent condition despite all the adversity. The newly built Mother and Child Center in Bogale is full of small and large patients crowding the reception and treatment rooms. A good sign after just a few months of operation, the demand is enormous and the patients are already placing their trust in us. Every month, around 400 women and their babies are cared for by experienced doctors and midwives at the center during pregnancy and after birth. Our goal: to significantly reduce maternal mortality in the region, which is one of the highest in the country and far exceeds the WHO guidelines.

Even with the Irrawaddy River Doctors it seemed as if nothing had changed. Our ship, the Polli, shone in fresh white and the team greeted us as if we had only seen each other yesterday. We still knew most of the faces, it felt like coming home. Our quick check revealed that nothing has changed in terms of medical quality and that the ever-increasing number of patients are in the best of hands.

The situation in the country, on the other hand, looks bad. There are hardly any tourists in the country, which means that many people have lost their source of income. Petrol is rationed at petrol stations, the power is constantly out and the internet connection is more than shaky. All issues that seemed to have been resolved a few years ago. When we were last in the country in 2019, the economy was developing rapidly and life was buzzing on the streets during the day and in the evenings. Now there is an eerie silence in the evenings and you can sense people's despair and even a degree of resignation.

Right now, it is important that we continue to help the people in Myanmar . We will also cautiously resume our medical missions. We have seen that even in the most difficult times, our team is able to maintain the projects and run them excellently. We have great confidence in them. Our team's trust in us is also great and that spurs us on to continue and support them wherever we can.



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