The UN information management team responds rapidly to the COVID-19 crisis in Myanmar
The United Nations in Myanmar has more than 20 agencies working on the COVID-19 response. They have come together as one to support every aspect of the Government’s plan to protect lives and support livelihoods of Myanmar’s people.
Myanmar Information Management Unit
YANGON: Information sharing is saving lives in Myanmar.
As New Year’s 2020 celebrations across the world calmed, unease about COVID-19 skyrocketed. By the end of January, the WHO declared a global health emergency, and the next day, the Myanmar Information Management Unit (MIMU) launched the MIMU COVID-19 Webpage to be a central space for situation updates and prevention information.
Formed in 2007 as a service of the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, MIMU responds to the lack of information supporting humanitarian and development activities around the country.
"Ensuring information is readily available during a crisis can save lives,” says Shon Campbell, MIMU Manager.
”With COVID, we didn't want to take any chances and began preparations as soon as the virus started to spread internationally.”
The MIMU COVID-19 Webpage is a publicly accessible database of COVID-19 information on Myanmar, with hundreds of resources including up-to-date situation reports from the WHO and Myanmar’s Ministry of Health and Sports (MoHS), infographics with prevention advice, audio messages in 18 ethnic languages and links to numerous online dashboards. With thousands of active monthly users, Myanmar-based organisations are finding the webpage useful, having downloaded its resources over 44,000 times.
"I'm very happy with what the MIMU team has – and continues to – put together. It’s been a joint effort with agencies and government departments kindly providing materials that can be shared through this space.
We received a lot of positive feedback from the humanitarian and development communities and, most importantly, it’s being very well used by different people to help meet their needs," says Campbell.
BBC Media Action uses the MIMU COVID-19 Webpage to help Myanmar people stay safe by increasing their access to countrywide health information.
“Many people can hardly read and write in their own languages, so we get the concept or content from MIMU and then make it audio-visual”, says Dipak Bhattarai, Series Producer at BBC Media Action Myanmar.
BBC Media Action, the international development charity of the BBC, uses media to improve health and help people understand their rights. In Myanmar, it produces multiple television and radio shows, including ‘’Khan Sar Kyi,’’ a TV program typically focusing on diversity, conflict and the peace process.
In April, it began focusing on COVID-19.
The team at Khan Sar Kyi, (or “Feel It”, in English) regularly searches the MIMU COVID-19 webpage for content to support its television and social media outlets. Sometimes this means animating an infographic about food safety, or taking an audio message about handwashing and combining it with an in-house message about wearing masks, or it could simply mean using the webpage’s content to inspire their own creations.
The content is then distributed nationally via broadcast television and a wide range of Facebook pages, most notably, those of BBC Media Action’s countrywide media partners, who translate the content into as many as ten ethnic languages, ensuring materials have the potential to reach every state and region in Myanmar.
“Between all of our media channels, every month, millions of people see content the COVID-19 Webpage helped us create”, Bhattarai says. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. “We are getting hundreds of comments on Facebook from people saying that they enjoy the content and are finding it very useful.”
At times the content even extends beyond normal channels. BBC Media Action created a Myanmar language song based on information taken from the MIMU COVID-19 Webpage. Soon after, they began hearing reports of people across the country downloading the song off Facebook to play in their communities from large speakers on trucks, much like during Myanmar’s New Year Festival.
Knowledge can be a powerful, world-changing tool. By centralising information for wider use, MIMU’s COVID-19 Webpage is helping agencies empower Myanmar’s citizens during this challenging time.