Sunday, 17 November 2019

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Kachin State HIV rates at least 16 times the national average


Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – HIV-positive prevalence rates in areas controlled by cease-fire groups in the northern Burmese state of Kachin are more than 16 times the average for the country, resulting in concerns a disaster is imminent if the region fails to receive sufficient help, an NGO said of its quarter-long survey of the problem.

Since 2008, the Burmese junta has denied health organisations access to the region to help battle the virus that can lead to Aids, and this year direct-help programmes were stopped.

The regional NGO conducted a survey of HIV infection rates in two special regions in Kachin State for about three months. It found that at least 11 per cent of the regions’ total population was infected with the virus.

The average nationwide HIV infection rate is 0.67 per cent of the population or 242,000, the World Health Organisation report said, citing a survey in 2007.

Kachin Special Region 1 (Panwa, Kanpitete, Chibway) is controlled by the New Democratic Army (Kachin) and Kachin Special Region 2 (Laiza, Maijayan) is controlled by the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO).

“The survey says that it is highly critical of health standards in the region. Most of the HIV victims are young people, between 15 and 35 years old. In my area, there are about 500 HIV patients,” a KIO official said on condition of anonymity.

The direct-help programmes of NGOs for HIV carriers were stopped this year and there were existing restrictions on health organisations entering the region, so the situation had become very serious, the official said.

“KIO is a revolutionary organisation, so we don’t have enough money to battle Aids. It would be good if AZG could help the region effectively. But, their help is not enough. Moreover, the junta does not allow NGOs to enter the region and there are drug-related cases as well,” another KIO official told Mizzima, referring to the Dutch medical aid organisation, AZG.

In 2008, AZG, tried to enter Liza, which is under KIO control, to conduct programmes to battle the spread of Aids but former North Command chief General Ohn Myint, denied access, a ban that continues.

“If the efforts are decreased, the disaster will be very serious. The situation demands extra efforts. We need to take time to educate residents”, an employee from a regional NGO said.

Former KIO chairman Bran Saing announced that one of the reasons the cease-fire deal was signed with the Burmese military junta was his serious concern that Aids would have a great impact on the region, a KIO official recalled.

“We don’t have enough doctors and health-care-educated people, so though we battle against Aids, we do not succeed”, he told Mizzima. 

 

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