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Arakan State residents need health care: MSF

With unrest in Burma’s Rakhine State, many people are now unable to receive adequate health care, says Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which has been forced to suspend its operations in the area.

Smoke rises from burned houses in Sittwe, Burma, the capital of  Rakhine State on Monday, June 11, 2012. Security forces tried to restore order after a wave of sectarian religious violence has led to deaths, injuries and the burning of homes and businesses. Photo: AFP When sectarian clashes erupted on June 9, the violence put its local clinic staff in danger, MSF said in a statement on Monday.

“MSF is extremely worried that victims of the clashes are not receiving emergency care, and about the ongoing healthcare needs of our patients,” said Joe Belliveau, MSF operations manager. “Our immediate concerns are to provide emergency medical services, get food and supplies to people, and get our HIV patients their lifesaving treatment.”

In their effort to find a safe haven from the threat of continued violence, people are trying to flee to southern Bangladesh. MSF said it is concerned by reports that the Bangladesh government has denied access to people attempting to flee the violence and seek healthcare across the border. MSF also provides medical services in Bangladesh, and is ready to treat anyone in need of assistance, regardless of their origins, it said.

“People seeking refuge and in need of food, water and medical care should be allowed to cross the border,” said Belliveau.  “In both Myanmar and Bangladesh, MSF is trying to reach those affected by the violence, but they should also be allowed to reach us.”

In Rakhine (Arakan) State, MSF has provided medical services for 20 years focusing on maternal health and infectious diseases such as malaria, diarrhea, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. In 2011, MSF conducted more than 487,000 consultations, and had over 600 patients on anti-retroviral treatment for HIV/AIDS. In addition to meeting immediate emergency needs, the return to a safe environment is needed to get MSF programmes back on track for longer-term health and well-being of people from all communities throughout the state, said the non-profit health service.

It said the MSF medical programme in Burma is one of its largest in the world. MSF is the country's main AIDS treatment provider and has been at the forefront of the fight against malaria.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 19 June 2012 13:15 )  

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