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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid