Myanmar: Victims of recent clashes must have access to healthcare

Yangon, 18 June 2012 — With continued tension and unrest in Rakhine state, Myanmar, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is concerned that those people most affected by violence and deep communal divisions are unable to receive medical treatment. 

MSF's clinics and staff were put in danger when violence erupted in Rakhine state on 9 June 2012. MSF was forced to suspend most of its medical activities. 

“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 get our HIV patients their lifesaving treatment.”

Denied access to Bangladesh

MSF is disturbed by reports that the Bangladesh government is denying access to people attempting to flee the violence in Myanmar and seek healthcare across the border. MSF also provides medical services in Bangladesh, and is ready to treat anyone in need of assistance, regardless of their origins.

“People seeking refuge and in need of food, water and medical care should be allowed to cross the border,” said 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.”

20 years of medical services

MSF has been providing medical services for 20 years in Rakhine, focusing on maternal health and infectious diseases such as malaria, diarrhoea, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. In 2011, MSF conducted more than 487,000 consultations, and has over 600 patients on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for HIV/AIDS. In addition to meeting immediate emergency needs, getting MSF’s regular programmes back on track is critical to 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 people - regardless of ethnicity, origin or religion - receive the medical humanitarian assistance they require. MSF’s medical programme in Myanmar is one of its largest. MSF is the country’s main AIDS treatment provider and has been at the forefront of the fight against malaria.