Myanmar: Victims of Recent Clashes Must Have Access to Health Care

White flag with red logo of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) against sunny blue sky

© Valérie Batselaere/MSF

Violence and deep communal divisions in Rakhine State are preventing people from receiving emergency medical treatment.

YANGON, MYANMAR, June 18, 2012Continuing violence and deep communal divisions in Rakhine State, Myanmar, are preventing people from receiving emergency medical treatment, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said today.

MSF was forced to suspend most of its medical activities in Rakhine State when violence erupted on June 9, putting the organization’s clinics and staff in danger.

“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 ensure our HIV patients continue receiving their lifesaving treatment.”

In their effort to find a safe haven, people from Rakhine are trying to flee the violence for southern Bangladesh but are reportedly being denied access to the country. MSF provides medical services in Bangladesh, and is ready to treat anyone in need of assistance, regardless of origin.

“People seeking refuge and who are in need of food, water, and medical care should be allowed to cross the border,” continued 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, MSF has been providing medical services for 20 years, focusing on maternal health and infectious diseases such as malaria, diarrhea, HIV/AIDS, and TB.  In 2011, MSF conducted more than 487,000 medical consultations.  More than 600 people receive anti-retroviral treatment (ART) for HIV/AIDS. In addition to meeting immediate emergency needs, the resumption of MSF’s regular medical programs is critical for the longer-term health and well-being of people from all communities throughout the state.

In all of its activities worldwide, MSF’s sole aim is to ensure that the most vulnerable peopleregardless of ethnicity, origin or religionreceive the medical humanitarian assistance they require. MSF’s medical program in Myanmar is one of its largest anywhere in the world. MSF is the country’s main AIDS treatment provider and has been at the forefront of the fight against malaria.