Humanitarian Crisis Imminent in Myanmar Unless Efforts Taken To Tackle ‘Acute Humanitarian Need,’ Including Response to HIV/AIDS, Official Says
A humanitarian crisis is imminent in Myanmar unless efforts are taken to tackle specific areas of "acute humanitarian need," including a response to HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, Charles Petrie, head of the United Nations Development Programme in the country, said on Tuesday, the AP/International Herald Tribune reports (AP/International Herald Tribune, 6/20). 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. 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 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/6).
According to Petrie, since he arrived in 2003, the United Nations has been able "to start addressing some very difficult issues" in Myanmar, including reducing the stigma of HIV/AIDS in the country's military. However, the United Nations is concerned about some specific areas of acute humanitarian need, such as addressing HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB in the general population, Petrie said, adding, "We are seeing evolutions of these three diseases that is very worrying."
Petrie said the organization is concerned that if there is no "effort to try to and address the three diseases" and "address the issues of acute poverty that are emerging," then the situation will be "push[ed] ... towards a serious humanitarian crisis." He added that resources are needed from outside donors (AP/International Herald Tribune, 6/20).