Government policies in Burma that restrict public health and humanitarian aid have created an environment where AIDS, drug-resistant tuberculosis, malaria and bird flu (H5N1) are spreading unchecked, according to a report by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In that report authors Chris Beyrer, MD, MPH, director of the Bloomberg Schools Center for Public Health and Human Rights, Luke Mullany, PhD, Voravit Suwanvanichkij, MD, MPH and Nicole Franck, MHS, document the spread of these infectious diseases, which if left unchecked, could pose a serious health threat to other Southeast Asia nations and the world. They believe international cooperation and policies are needed to restore humanitarian assistance to the Burmese people, but caution that new restrictions imposed by the military junta are making such efforts more difficult.
The report states that
The report documents a longstanding and severe under funding of health and education programs in
There is a growing humanitarian crisis in
The report also documents threats and restrictions to foreign relief workers and relief groups, including the Red Cross. Because of the deteriorating situation, the United Nations Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was forced to withdraw its five-year, $96 million dollar grant agreement with Burma. Backpack Health Worker Team, an aid group that provides primary health care services in rural areas of Eastern Burma and Thailand, is also raising concerns about its ability to monitor and contain outbreaks of bird flu and other diseases.
The Burmese junta is increasing restrictions on humanitarian assistance and public health while the health of Burmese people deteriorates, posing a widening threat to Burma and her neighbors, said Beyrer.
The report Responding to AIDS, TB, Malaria and Emerging Infectious Diseases in Burma: Dilemmas of Policy and Practice March 2006 was funded by the Center for Public Health and Human Rights and the Bill and Melinda Gates Population and Family Health Institute.
Source: Johns Hopkins School of Public Health