|05RANGOON1202||2005-10-24 10:19:00||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY||Embassy Rangoon|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 RANGOON 001202
1. (U) SUMMARY: The UK's Department for International
Development (DFID) has contracted a consultant to meet with
donors and key players to identify viable options to help
fill the void created by the termination of the Global Fund
(GF) in Burma. Many donors wish to replace the Fund for
HIV/AIDS in Myanmar (FHAM), which is partnered with the GOB,
with a new mechanism that also addresses tuberculosis (TB)
and malaria. There seems to be general feeling among aid
professionals that the UNDP and UNAIDS are not suitable
agencies to manage a new mechanism. The GOB apparently does
not object to the concept of implementing the program through
a "commercial contract." There is also strong consensus
among all donors that the GOB must relax its current tight
restrictions on expatriates to allow work at project sites in
the field. END SUMMARY.
SEARCHING FOR COMMON GROUND
2. (U) The British Embassy invited representatives from
selected Rangoon embassies to a briefing on October 19 by
Paul Thornton, Director of Verulam Associates, Ltd., a UK
consulting firm that specializes in institutional and
organizational change management. DFID hired this firm to
meet with donors, UN agencies, International NGOs (INGOs),
NGOs, medical professionals, and the GOB to review possible
options to fill the gap left by the recent termination of the
GF in Burma (reftel). At the end of the review, the firm
will present an "options paper" to DFID and UNDP on possible
new mechanisms to address HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria in Burma.
3. (U) Thornton met with donors in Bangkok before traveling
to Rangoon. He said the donors there -- which included DFID
and the EU, Swedish, Norwegian, and Netherlands embassies --
supported a united, collaborative effort and were against a
fragmented approach. They want to address all three diseases
with one organization and to keep the mechanism simple. The
donors want to replace the Fund for HIV/AIDS in Myanmar
(FHAM), which is due to expire in June 2006, with a new
4. (U) In his meetings with INGOs in Burma, Thornton found
them "surprisingly rigid." They were critical of both the
GOB and UN agencies. They felt that the GOB lacked technical
capacity and imposed too many restrictions and felt that the
UN should not have tried to both monitor and disburse funds
for the GF. Thornton believed there was consensus (both
among INGOs and with the GOB) that neither the UNDP nor
UNAIDS should be the coordinating agency for the new
mechanism. He said there are a couple of other UN agencies
that could be acceptable to the GOB. (Note: The consultant
would not name the two agencies, but the only other UN
offices in Burma who could conceivably take a leading role
are UNICEF and WHO. End Note.) The GOB also indicated a
willingness to consider the option of a "commercial contract"
with a private agency to deliver services to the Burmese
people for all three diseases.
EMBASSIES SPEAK UP
5. (SBU) Several of the embassy representatives at the
Rangoon session commented during the briefing.
-- U.S.: Poloff reported that USAID funding for Burma was
unaffected by the GF decision and that the United States is
continuing to provide $2 million, primarily through
Population Services International, for HIV/AIDS projects that
are wholly independent of the GOB and government-linked NGOs.
Several embassy representatives were surprised to learn that
USAID is funding ongoing HIV/AIDS activities in Burma.
-- Japan: The representative from Japanese International
Cooperation Agency (JICA) expressed Japan's willingness to
participate in the new structure if a good mechanism is
proposed. He said that his government has no reservations
about providing funding directly to the GOB.
-- Australia: The Australian embassy representative for
AusAID said that Australia feels safeguards against providing
funds to the GOB and government-linked NGOs need to be
"sensible." Australia does not feel bound by the EU's
position that it is necessary to obtain prior approval from
the opposition NLD party before implementing new programs in
Burma. Australia noted that they would continue to focus on
HIV/AIDS, as they do not have strong domestic funding support
for TB or malaria.
-- Thailand: Thailand prefers to deal with Burma on a
bilateral rather than multilateral basis. The Thais plan to
help build the capacity of Burmese health personnel by taking
them to Thailand for training courses in the relevant
diseases, rather than joining an inter-regional program.
HAVE ACCESS, WILL TRAVEL
6. (U) Restrictions by the GOB on access to project sites
were also discussed. Thornton said that UNDP Resident
Coordinator Charles Petrie had noticed an almost immediate
easing in travel restrictions on UN agencies after the demise
of GF, indicating that the GOB felt pressure to make
concessions in response to the GF decision. Thornton also
said that the INGOs have asked the GOB, through the Ministry
of Health (MOH), to permit their expatriates to live in the
field for periods of up to one full year, instead of the
occasional two-week visits that are currently allowed. The
GOB has not yet responded to the request. The JICA
representative noted that the MOH has said the current travel
restrictions are only "temporary," but commented that
"temporary" could mean up to 3 to 4 years.
7. (U) COMMENT: We shall try to get a copy of the British
Embassy's "options paper" that results from this consultancy
and will report further developments as they occur. Post
will also continue to provide insight on any new proposals
for combating HIV-AIDS, TB, and malaria in Burma. We will
also continue to remind other embassies, INGOs, and others
involved in this issue about the need to ensure that funding
is spent solely on fighting these diseases rather than
enriching the GOB's coffers or those of its subsidiaries.