The 11th conference of  Burma Medical Association was held near a border area between Myanmar and Thailand on 23 and 24 June. The conference discussed deteriorating healthcare sector under the Myanmar military council, reviewed forthcoming plans and pleaded for four provisions from international governments and organizations.

 This interview with Saw Nay Htoo, the director of Burma Medical Association, is about the topics discussed at the conference, healthcare crisis in Myanmar under the military junta and obstacles in providing humanitarian assistance to the needy people.

TLT: What are the important pleas to international community at the 11th conference of Burma Medical Association (BMA)?

Saw Nay Htoo: We made some pleas to international governments and organizations. We requested them for immediate humanitarian assistance. We also urged them to deliver humanitarian programs to the needly people  in cooperation with local healthcare service groups and regional organizations. It has been already known that the Myanmar people are suffering atrocities of military council. We have pleaded for international aid to provide safe healthcare provisions.

We also asked them to try for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners arrested by the military after illegal coup, not to recognize the military council as a legitimate government. We also urged all they Myanmar-born medical practitioners to work together with personnel from ethnic healthcare  groups, global governments and international organizations to adopt healthcare system and policy that align with federal system.

TLT: The press release on the conference said that healthcare system in Myanmar is deteriorating very seriously. Could you specify it?

Saw Nay Htoo: Healthcare system in Myanmar was not well-developed with many difficulties even in the past.  Healthcare professionals are the majority of CDMers who opposed to the military coup. These situations are very concerning in healthcare sector. The number of healthcare personnel has decline, and that services will surely decline. The military is also carrying out airstrike over medical facilities in ethnic areas. Locals in these areas have no more access to healthcare services. So, civil disobedient movement of health professionals and the aerial attacks of the military have worsened healthcare services of the country.

TLT: Does the humanitarian assistance benefit to the needy people  in the region? What are challenges for the people, and to what extent do people need healthcare services?

Saw Nay Htoo: We have to check on multiple perspectives. Political situation in the country is so complicated that it is very difficult to get humanitarian aid. Cross-border support is needed by all ways and means to reach humanitarian aid. Access to international relief aid can be got through cross-border routes from Thailand, China and India.

Without cooperation of regional health and social organizations, the humanitarian aid will not reach to the  crisis-stricken populace of Myanmar. Humanitarian assistance could be delivered to these people in cooperation with regional organizations which have been working it for a decade, and understand the the needs of people. Without working with them, the assistance could not be distributed to them.

TLT: What are the ongoing health problems of people, especially IDPs, in the control-area of Karen National Union? What are the diseases now? Do they get medical treatments sufficiently?

Saw Nay Htoo: People in this area is suffering seasonal diseases such as diarrhea, respiratory disease and malaria. Malaria cases declined over the past three or four years. However, it has been recurrence recent years, especially in rainy season. The locals do not get enough medicines for this.

Transportation is difficult at the moment amid the lack of security. Healthcare services have declined after the coup because people do not get sufficient medical treatment.

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