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Myanmar: In Kachin State, MSF Provides Assistance After Landslides, Floods
July 14, 2009
Torrential rains caused a major landslide and subsequent flooding in Hpakant, a mining area in northern Kachin State, Myanmar, on July 4. Officials say 24 people are dead, but figures remain unclear. About 1,000 people who have lost their homes have sought refuge in local monasteries and a school. The local 25-bed government hospital has received dozens of injured and part of the hospital has also been flooded.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) runs a clinic to for patients living with HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases in this area, and is now distributing relief items, including soap, blankets, and mosquito nets, as well as food donated by the World Food Program. MSF is also providing support to the government hospital through the provision of medical supplies, and continues to monitor the situation closely, especially the condition of water and sanitation, and are ready to respond as necessary.
Spread of HIV/AIDS persists in Kachin State, throughout Myanmar
At its northernmost reaches, Kachin State borders China and comprises thick jungle, along with Myanmar’s largest mountains. The region contains people from many different ethnic groups, as well as numerous migrant workers attracted by large jade mines. Health issues, notably HIV/AIDS, are fuelled by a prevalence of brothels and opium dens, and compounded by a lack of accessible and affordable health services.
MSF runs eight clinics and numerous mobile clinics providing services in HIV/AIDS care, treatment and prevention activities such as harm-reduction for intravenous drug users, treatment for reproductive tract infection, tuberculosis, and malaria, as well as health education.
The situation for many people living with HIV in Myanmar is critical due to a severe lack of lifesaving antiretroviral treatment (ART). MSF currently provides ART to more than 11,000 people. That is the majority of all available treatment countrywide, but only a small fraction of what is urgently needed.