Today, June 8, 2021, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was asked to suspend activities in the city of Dawei by regional authorities in Tanintharyi, in southern Myanmar. Until now, MSF has been able to maintain most medical programs around the country since the onset of the crisis almost four months ago. Adrian Guadarrama, MSF’s deputy program manager gave the following statement:
Today the MSF team in Dawei, in the Tanintharyi region, received a letter from the regional authorities asking us to suspend all activities.
This decision will affect 2,162 people living with HIV under MSF care in the Myittar Yeik clinic, who will struggle to access antiretroviral treatment. [It will also affect] tuberculosis (TB) patients, who, since February of this year, have been seeking care at MSF-supported facilities due to reduced services at the National TB program.
Suspending MSF’s activities could be life-threatening for many of our patients at a time when public services remain severely disrupted. It risks further transmission of the diseases we treat. It may prevent new patients from getting diagnosed and starting lifesaving treatment. And it will deprive our patients of much needed psychosocial counseling—vital for ensuring adherence to treatment.
MSF’s team is taking all possible measures to ensure patients continue to get care. We have already provided antiretroviral drug refills to 100 patients and are arranging to send medication to those living outside Dawei.
MSF has been providing comprehensive HIV care in Dawei for almost two decades, including outreach programs to prevent marginalized and at-risk people—including migrant workers and people who inject drugs—from becoming infected. Until now, our activities have not been disrupted, despite the political instability affecting Myanmar.
MSF is in contact with regional health authorities to understand the decision and has requested the suspension order be revised so that we can continue to provide care to patients. MSF remains willing and ready for an open dialogue in order to allow [our teams] to provide health care for at-risk people in Dawei.