France will contribute US$14 million towards cooperation with Myanmar on health issues this year, the French embassy has announced.

First counsellor Guillaume Habert said prestigious health institutions such as the Institut Pasteur and the Fondation Mérieux had launched their collaboration with public laboratories in Yangon and Mandalay.

“The funding will support the fight against the three pandemics [malaria, AIDS and TB], research activities, hospital cooperation in various fields, and notably cardiac surgery in Mandalay, and NGO cooperation,”said Mr Habert.

He said Professor Odile Picard of Saint Antoine Hospital in Paris, one of the most eminent French specialists in the diagnosis and treatment of HIV and other infectious diseases, had been active in support of the development of national capacities in Myanmar since 1996. More than 200 000 people live with HIV in the country.

“The partnership that Professor Picard has set up with her Myanmar counterparts is not only highly instrumental in the treatment of disease but also exemplary…it consists in building Myanmar capacities through annual training of doctors from Myanmar public hospitals in the best HIV units of hospitals in Paris,” said Mr Habert.

Since 1996, 14 HIV and infectious disease specialists from Yangon and Mandalay have been trained in France, and they are now the backbone of the Myanmar operational response capacity to HIV and other infectious diseases.

“This training fully addresses the practical needs of local young doctors. All these 14 doctors have qualified and received a diploma recognised by the French Government,” he said, adding that the French Minister of Health had invited his Myanmar counterpart to visit France this spring.