Sir Malcolm Bruce visits disabled people in Myanmar - lives transformed thanks to the UK people

Former Chair of the International Development Committee (IDC), Sir Malcolm Bruce, visited Myanmar this week and spent time at The Leprosy Mission, seeing for himself the results of generous funding from the UK for disabled people.

Sir Malcolm visited a project funded by UK Aid's DaNa Facility, which is designed to support the economic inclusion of disabled people, particularly women, through education, training, innovative microfinance products and inclusive agricultural practices. The DaNa Facility is an inclusive economic development programme created by the UK Government's Department for International Development in Myanmar.

Sir Malcolm said, “I’m very pleased to see some of the recommendations from the IDC on disability and development taking place; giving practical support on disability in ways that will help us to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and leave no one behind.”

May Myat Kyaw knows only too well the effects of leprosy and disability. She has recently received reconstructive surgery on her clawed hand at Mawlamyine Christian Leprosy Hospital.

She is now well-equipped to help people affected by disability and leprosy to overcome the barriers that they face in finding work. She is a newly trained job coach, employed by the DaNa project. She said, “I want to send a message to everyone with leprosy and disability that you can do it! You can get a job! “

The Leprosy Mission’s Head of Programmes in England and Wales, Sian Arulanantham said, “We were delighted to welcome Sir Malcolm to Myanmar. He has seen for himself how generous funding from the UK people is transforming the lives of some of the poorest people in Myanmar society.”

The Leprosy Mission’s Head of Programmes in Myanmar, Nyi Nyi Lwin said, “this project is a wonderful example of how we can improve the livelihoods of people with disabilities in Myanmar. We are very grateful to the DaNa Facility and the UK government for funding this important work.”

Over 2.3 million people in Myanmar or five per cent of the population live with a disability and only 25 per cent are involved in work. This means that over a million households in Myanmar live with disability-related poverty.

Leprosy is also a significant problem in Myanmar, with 2,279 new cases of leprosy diagnosed in 20172, 283 of whom are already suffering from visible disabilities. The discrimination and stigma experienced by people affected by leprosy and disabilities means that these people are even less likely to be employed.

The Leprosy Mission received UK Aid funding through the DaNa Facility that will bring about new job opportunities for people with disability, such through innovative micro-finance products and agricultural training in Mandalay, Bago, and Yangon Regions of Myanmar so excluded and marginalised people will be helped out of poverty.

Photo: Ruth Towell/Leprosy Mission