News / Asia

    Burmese Government Backpedals on Aid Organization Ban

    A family member takes care of a HIV patient at HIV/AIDS care center founded by Phyu Phyu Thin, a parliament member of Burma's Opposition Leader Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD Party, in outskirts of Rangoon, Mar. 1, 2014.
    A family member takes care of a HIV patient at HIV/AIDS care center founded by Phyu Phyu Thin, a parliament member of Burma's Opposition Leader Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD Party, in outskirts of Rangoon, Mar. 1, 2014.
    Gabrielle Paluch
    Doctors Without Borders, the largest single provider of anti-retroviral HIV/AIDS treatment in Burma - also known as Myanmar - has closed its clinics around the country for the first time since it began working there after receiving an order from the government to cease all operations.

    An outreach worker from Mandalay, who goes by the name of Casper, has been HIV-positive for over 10 years, and helps HIV-positive people get tested and get counseling. He has been traveling to a Doctors Without Borders clinic in Rangoon once a month to get life-saving drugs the government could not provide for him. On Saturday, he was told he will no longer be able to continue treatment after Doctors Without Borders was ordered to cease operations.

    He said that if there were no treatment from Doctors Without Borders, people would have to rely on government programs, and there would be many people in pain and suffering.

    Doctors Without Borders said in a statement Friday they were "deeply shocked" by the order, and the decision would have a "devastating impact" on the 30,000 HIV patients and 3,000 tuberculosis patients they are currently treating.

    Protesters and Buddhist monks stage a rally against Doctors Without Borders in Sittwe, Rakhine State, western Burma, Feb. 23, 2014.Protesters and Buddhist monks stage a rally against Doctors Without Borders in Sittwe, Rakhine State, western Burma, Feb. 23, 2014.
    x
    Protesters and Buddhist monks stage a rally against Doctors Without Borders in Sittwe, Rakhine State, western Burma, Feb. 23, 2014.
    Protesters and Buddhist monks stage a rally against Doctors Without Borders in Sittwe, Rakhine State, western Burma, Feb. 23, 2014.
    The organization works in a number of conflict areas across the country, but has been accused of favoring stateless Muslim Rohingya in Rakhine state, a minority group of people who have been forced out of their homes to live in camps where their movements are restricted.

    Government spokesperson Ye Htut told media the organization had been ordered to cease operations, and had falsely claimed it had treated victims of violence around the time of an alleged massacre in January, which the government denied happened.

    But after international pressure, Burma's government appears to be back-pedaling. Ye Htut said the government had not ordered a countrywide ban, just a Rakhine state ban for Doctors Without Borders.

    "Other parts of the country they are ok, but in Rakhine state they didn't follow their core principles of impartiality and they didn't follow the conditions set in the MOU. with the ministry of health, but after we reach the agreement for the new MOU. we will solve all these problems," he said.

    Even if the ban is limited to Rakhine state, thousands of patients living in dire conditions will have to do without the primary care provided by the medical charity every day.

    According to UNAIDS, there are already more than 90,000 people living with HIV in Burma who need anti-retrovirals and have no access to them. Though $160 million was pledged to help improve access last year to treatment for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, the government has not been able to accommodate any new patients for anti-retrovirals.

    The medicines are so scarce in Burma that patients must have a CD-4 count below 350 in order to qualify for treatment, rather than the customary 500.

    Burma's current national budget reserves only 3 percent of its outlays for health and education combined.

    You May Like

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border From Mexico

    In remote areas of the Sonoran Desert, which straddles the US-Mexico, thousands of migrants face arid desolation

    Video Recycling is Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    It's an ancient craft that stretches back millennia - but despite Lebanon’s trash crisis providing a lifeline, remaining glass blowers face an uncertain future

    Meet the Alleged Killer of Cambodia’s Kem Ley

    What little is known about former soldier, troublesome Buddhist monk and indebted gambler, raises more questions than answers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora