Skip to main content

You are here

Myanmar (Burma)

Myanmar, also known as Burma, has high HIV and tuberculosis (TB) rates, and Médecins Sans Frontières is the country's primary provider of TB and HIV/AIDS care. Working in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, MSF supplies antiretrovirals (ARVs) to more than half of the people undergoing treatment. MSF first worked in Myanmar in 1992.

Health Infrastructure Support

MSF teams treat HIV patients co-infected with diseases such as tuberculosis, cytomegalovirus retinitis and hepatitis C through integrated programs in Shan and Kachin states, as well as in Yangon and Dawei in Tanintharyi region.  

These programs also offer treatment for sexually transmitted infections, provide health education, psychological and social support, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Teams are targeting high-risk and vulnerable groups, such as sex workers, men who have sex with men, and migrant workers. MSF is supporting the National AIDS Program (NAP) to decentralise treatment.

MSF is responsible for viral load testing for all HIV patients in Tanintharyi region, and works with the community to improve early HIV detection and treatment.

In the remote townships, where access to healthcare is minimal, we provide outpatient consultations in fixed and mobile clinics, and support Ministry of Health vaccination campaigns. A new program focusing on primary healthcare and health promotion was launched in Naga, one of the most remote corners of the country, in Sagaing region.

Rohingya Refugee Crisis

The Rohingya are a stateless ethnic group, the majority of whom are Muslim, who have lived for centuries in the majority Buddhist Myanmar. This is, however, disputed by Myanmar authorities who claim the Rohingya are Bengali immigrants who came to Myanmar in the 20th Century.  

Described by the United Nations as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, the Rohingya are denied citizenship under Myanmar law. Nearly all Rohingya in Myanmar live in the western coastal state of Rakhine and are not allowed to leave without government permission. There is a lack of basic services and opportunities for the Rohingya in Myanmar, including freedom of movement, healthcare, state education and civil service jobs. 

 

The exodus of Rohingya refugees is one of the largest displacements of people in recent memory. By the end of 2017, nearly 700,000 people had crossed the border into Bangladesh to escape the violence.

On the 25th of August 2017, a counter-insurgency military operation in Rakhine State led to a mass displacement of Rohingya civilians into Bangladesh.

The Myanmar military, police and local militias launched “clearance operations” in response to attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). This clearance operation turned into a massacre targeting civilians and has led to the displacement of at least 647,000 Rohingya refugees. 

The lack of sustained independent assessments in northern Rakhine means that no one has a comprehensive picture of the situation on the ground and the medical and humanitarian needs.

Benoit De Gryse
MSF Operations Manager
Two weeks prior to the attacks of 25th August, MSF lost government authorisation to carry out medical activities in highly vulnerable communities in northern and eastern Rakhine state. MSF is still waiting for permission to operate in the area. Other independent humanitarian agencies also remain largely blocked from providing healthcare for displaced people and accessing isolated villages in northern Rakhine, raising major concerns about unmet medical and humanitarian needs.  
 
At the time operations were suspended, we were operating four primary healthcare clinics in northern Rakhine – three of which were subsequently burnt down.

 

Related Stories