Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières opened three independent COVID-19 treatment centers to receive patients with moderate to severe symptoms in Myanmar’s biggest city, Yangon, and Kachin state’s Myitkyina and Hpakant townships. In August, we had begun supporting a facility in Lashio, the capital of northern Shan state, but were ordered to close it four days after receiving our first patients, after which they were transferred to a government facility.
We also started a COVID-19 information hotline for people in Muse and Lashio, Shan state, and Dawei, Tanintharyi region, donated supplies to institutions, including Lashio prison, and trained frontline health care workers on infection and prevention control.
HIV, hepatitis C, and tuberculosis (TB)
Shortly after the military seized power, we suspended the ongoing transfer of our HIV patients to the Ministry of Health’s program. We diagnosed and began treatment for new HIV patients in large numbers for the first time since 2019 at our clinics in Kachin and Shan states and Tanintharyi region, as well as continuing care for patients who could no longer access consultations and drug refills at their usual government facilities. We also continued treatment for TB patients and people co-infected with HIV and hepatitis C.
Basic health care
We expanded our basic health care services, opening clinics to help people on low incomes in Yangon, who have borne the brunt of the economic fallout of COVID-19 and the political crisis. We also added basic health care to our clinics in Dawei, Hpakant, and Myitkyina, and expanded our referrals for specialist treatment.
The Rohingya living in Rakhine state have been exposed to cycles of persecution for decades and continue to face discrimination, segregation, extortion, and restrictions on movement. As a consequence of their lack of status and rights, the Rohingya also face serious restrictions when accessing basic services, including health care.
We continue to run mobile clinics offering basic health care, hospital referrals, treatment for sexual and gender-based violence, health education, and psychosocial support to Rohingya, ethnic Rakhine, and other ethnic groups in Rakhine state. We opened a new fixed clinic in Sin Tet Maw camp, Pauktaw township, improving access to health care for internally displaced Rohingya and Rakhine.
We have a team of community health workers in areas we cannot reach in northern Rakhine who provide basic care and referrals for emergency treatment.