For the first time in almost a year, tens of thousands of people are once again able to access basic healthcare and emergency referrals from medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
After being ordered by the government of Myanmar to stop medical activities in the region last February, MSF reopened primary health clinics in Rakhine on December 17, 2014.
MSF has worked in Rakhine state since 1992, providing basic healthcare, reproductive health services, emergency referrals and care for patients with tuberculosis and HIV. MSF has also treated over 1.2 million malaria patients in the state since 2004. All medical services have been provided based purely on the severity of individuals’ medical needs.
'There is space to do more'
“We welcome the progress we have made so far, but stress there is space to do more, space we at MSF are willing and able to fill,” said Martine Flokstra, MSF’s operational advisor for Myanmar. “We hope to continue this dialogue with the authorities in order to ensure that those who need it most in Rakhine state are able to access the healthcare they need.”
Since reopening primary health clinics four weeks ago, MSF has carried out over 3,480 outpatient consultations. Among the patients seen in that time have been those with chronic conditions who used to get the medications they need to manage their health from MSF, until those services were suspended last year. The organization has also carried out over 550 consultations with pregnant women since December 17.
Despite not being directly present in Rakhine for much of the past year, MSF has worked together with the Ministry of Health in Rakhine since July 2014, providing medicine and personnel to support mobile primary healthcare teams in Sittwe and Pauktaw Townships, and continuing its support of HIV patients in Buthidaung and Maungdaw. Throughout this period, MSF also continued to provide direct care and treatment to more than 35,000 HIV/AIDS patients across Myanmar, along with over 3,000 tuberculosis patients, most of whom are also HIV positive.
MSF in Myanmar
MSF has worked in Myanmar since 1992 and currently has medical projects in Rakhine, Shan and Kachin States, the Tanintharyi region, and in Yangon. MSF offers services including basic healthcare, reproductive care, emergency referrals, and malaria treatment. Since 2004, MSF has treated more than 1.2 million people across Rakhine State for malaria. MSF is also the largest provider of HIV/AIDS care in Myanmar.