January 2017 saw the third workshop for Innovation in Myanmar, a programme focused on identifying gaps in the current health system and devising innovative solutions for filling them. The participants used tools from Design Thinking, a methodology that draws on logic, imagination and beneficiary analysis techniques, under the guidance of Vincent Pirenne from the Board of Innovation and Christophe Horvath from Primeast.

The workshop welcomed participants from Johnson & Johnson, Alliance Myanmar, Phoenix, Ratana Metta, Myanmar Youth Star, Aye Nyein Myitta, Myanmar Youth Star and the Sex Workers in Myanmar Network. Participants built on the ideas developed during previous workshops in Myanmar.

The first team focused on improving how the Alliance’s services are delivered to their 3,000+ HIV patients in Yangon, and extending quality health service provision to poor patients. The team has been developing the business plan for a one-stop-shop in Yangon that will offer services that are currently spread across town under one roof. This will save time and money for patients who often have to travel several times a month for hours across Yangon to get the services they need. It will also reduce the cost for service providers. The team is now developing the business plan so that it will be ready to present to stakeholders soon!

The second team travelled to Mandalay, an old capital of Myanmar and the second largest city in the country, and focused on helping Community Based Organisations (CBOs) to become sustainable. CBOs play an integral role in the Myanmar health sector, particularly in providing outreach services to vulnerable populations. Funding is being cut for CBOs and this will leave a critical gap in the system. The team explored ways to bring social enterprise models to CBOs, to offer them alternative sources of funding. They have developed a plan to leverage opportunities within Myanmar for social enterprise expertise to be shared with CBOs in Mandalay. They are currently in the process of applying for grants and building a crowdfunding campaign – watch this space!

The third team travelled to Mon State, a more rural area of Southern Myanmar, to see how they could help improve youth's knowledge about sexual and reproductive health, with emergency contraception being the most popular form of contraception. The team developed a proposal to reach 10,000 vulnerable young women with safe sexual and reproductive health services in Mawlamyine, the capital of Mon State. In a country where one in ten maternal deaths are due to unsafe abortions, it is critical to ensure that sexual and reproductive health is on the agenda for all. The team is now refining the project idea, ready for funding.

All three teams made huge steps forward, and we are looking forward to seeing these projects take off. Thank you to all the fantastic participants of the January 2017 workshop for making it such an exciting week!