Increasing Number of Organizations, Health Workers Stop HIV/AIDS Services in Myanmar Over Pressure From Government, Washington Times Reports
An increasing number of international organizations and health workers have stopped offering HIV/AIDS services in Myanmar because of pressure from the country's military government, the Washington Times reports. The Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in 2005 suspended its grants to the country because restrictions from the government made it "nearly impossible" to provide services, the Times reports. In addition, Medecins Sans Frontieres last year suspended programs in the states Karen and Mon. The International Committee of the Red Cross in October 2006 was ordered by the junta to close its offices outside the capital, Yangon, after reporting widespread HIV cases among prison inmates. The military in December 2006 indicated that ICRC might be permitted to reopen field offices but would not be allowed to visit prisons. Aung Kyaw Oo -- India chair of the National Health and Education Committee, a group organized by exiled, pro-democracy advocates -- said that health workers and nongovernmental organizations working in Myanmar "have no access to the developed world in which they could obtain modern care and treatment for" people living with HIV. According to UNAIDS, access to HIV/AIDS treatment is the most dire in western Myanmar, and the group recently said that no one living with HIV/AIDS has received access to no-cost antiretroviral drugs from the government. According to an unnamed NHEC executive, the organization has received more than 2,000 requests for treatment from people living with HIV/AIDS. UNAIDS estimates that 620,000 people in Myanmar ages 15 to 49 are HIV-positive, and about 80% of HIV-positive people in the country do not know their status, according to the Times (Washington Times, 3/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.