In the late 1970s, PATH began work on our very first project—helping manufacturers in China set up facilities for making high-quality condoms and other contraceptives. We played an important part in helping millions of Chinese couples gain access to the reliable contraception that was already available in industrialized countries.
Over nearly four decades, we have expanded our efforts to include other health issues and communities throughout Asia. PATH’s previous work in the region includes successful projects in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand, where our program transitioned to an independent Thai nongovernmental organization called path2health in 2013. Today we have field offices in Cambodia, China, India, Myanmar, and Vietnam. We are improving health throughout the region.
PATH has supported the reconstruction and development of Cambodia’s health system since 1995. In 1999, we opened our office in Phnom Penh. Working with government, nongovernment, and private-sector partners, we provide technical support to increase access to essential health interventions in Cambodia. Our ability to collaborate effectively with both public- and private-sector partners is essential to the success of initiatives that improve care for a range of health issues that affect women and children.
Our projects in Cambodia include:
- Improving policies and interventions to strengthen the integration of childhood pneumonia and diarrheal disease activities into broader child survival initiatives.
- Generating evidence to demonstrate that rice fortification is a key method for improving the nutritional quality of food assistance commodities.
- Comparing alternative, more sensitive diabetes screening tools to determine the impact of level of sensitivity on early detection, health status of those diagnosed—determined by clinical outcomes (A1c, BP, Lipids), and impact on the health system.
- Strengthening private sector–led sanitation initiatives that provide sanitation and household water storage and treatment products to low-income consumers.
- Ensuring access to safe and affordable vaccines against Japanese encephalitis, protecting children at greatest risk of contracting this disabling and often deadly disease.
Since 1979, PATH has collaborated with Chinese government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, research institutes, and manufacturers to improve health, particularly reproductive, maternal, and child health. In the 1980s, we helped the People’s Republic of China develop new facilities for the manufacture of oral and injectable contraceptives, condoms, and IUDs. We have since partnered with Chinese agencies in adolescent reproductive health, HIV/AIDS prevention, and vaccines and immunization. After nearly 25 years of activity in China, PATH opened its representative office in Beijing in 2003.
In China, we are:
- Implementing programs to empower and enhance the health of young girls in rural China. We are giving them the information they need to make healthy decisions—and the confidence to stand by them, despite gender inequities.
- Increasing access to Japanese encephalitis vaccine through work with both private- and public-sector partners, including collaboration with China’s Centers for Disease Control to evaluate and enhance JE surveillance and immunization systems.
- Working with research partners to develop new screening tests that detect human papillomavirus (a precursor of cervical cancer) and are safe, accurate, reliable, and acceptable to women and health care providers. As part of this project, we are screening thousands of women for this fatal but preventable disease.
- Supporting development of a malaria vaccine candidate through partnerships that include a Chinese biotechnology enterprise and the World Health Organization.
- Investigating the market needs and feasibility of introducing fortified rice into China.
- Advancing rotavirus vaccine development with the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products.
With a population of more than one billion people, India is brimming with diverse ethnicities, languages, and cultures. PATH began its work in India the late 1990s, bringing governments, communities, private-sector companies, and experienced public health practitioners together to address some of the country’s most crucial health problems.
One of our first large projects was the USAID-funded Program for Advancements of Commercial Technology—Child and Reproductive Health (PACT-CRH). In early 2000, the scope of our India program expanded with a major immunization initiative for the state of Andhra Pradesh. Today, PATH’s India projects focus on immunization, HIV/AIDS, injection safety, maternal health, and more.
Our activities in India include:
- Strengthening routine immunization services and introducing new vaccines (including hepatitis B vaccine) into India’s Universal Immunization Programme. We are also the secretariat of the India Injection Safety Coalition, of which we were a founding member.
- Creating a model project for immunization services in Andhra Pradesh, where PATH and the government achieved universal coverage of hepatitis B vaccine for all infants for the first time.
- Enhancing the capacity of the private sector to produce high-quality child and reproductive health products by providing financial and technical support through the PACT-CRH project.
- Researching the introduction, acceptability, and regulatory environment of products such as microbicides, the female condom, and the improved diaphragm.
- Launching the Tarang project to reduce HIV incidence by helping individuals and communities assess risks and vulnerabilities to HIV and STIs—and build the skills, knowledge, and motivation to adopt preventive behaviors.
Momentous political changes in Myanmar, the Southeast Asian country also known as Burma, have opened the door for PATH to address some of the country’s most crucial health problems. In 2012, we launched our first program to improve the health of newborns, and in 2013, PATH opened an office in Yangon. Although our presence in Myanmar is new, PATH is already engaging with local organizations and government agencies to tackle neonatal health, vaccine supply chain, and micronutrient deficiencies.
Our work in Myanmar includes:
- Reducing micronutrient deficiencies and improving livelihoods through the introduction of fortified rice and ensuring sustainability along the rice value chain by fostering a favorable policy environment, building local capacity, capitalizing on opportunities for distribution, and promoting consumer demand.
- Building the capacity of local gynecologists and midwives to screen for cervical cancer and provide cryotherapy to treat any cervical precancer.
- Addressing the needs of the malaria community by assessing the performance and operational characteristics of rapid diagnostic tests for point-of-care screening of G6PD deficiency in collaboration with the Mahidol Oxford Research Unit and the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit in Thailand.
- Increasing the survival of newborns by improving the skills of the midwives and traditional birth attendants who deliver the majority of babies and increasing access to emergency and newborn care.
PATH began working in Vietnam in the early 1980s and established an office in Hanoi in 1997. Our work there has spanned the fields of maternal and newborn health, child survival, immunization, adolescent health, reproductive health, HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, and influenza. In addition, we have conducted research on a range of important health topics.
Our Vietnam activities include:
- Increasing access to tuberculosis and HIV services by improving linkages between the public and private health care sectors and enhancing the role of the private sector.
- Advancing technologies for the manufacture and future use of influenza vaccines.
- Increasing timely delivery of vaccines to children and pregnant women by developing a digital immunization registry to track immunizations and send SMS reminders to parents before each immunization day.
- Increasing coverage of timely hepatitis B birth-dose vaccinations by developing action plans to address adverse events following immunizations.
Photo: PATH/Gabe Bienczycki.