The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders has been told to suspend activities in Myanmar’s city of Dawei by regional authorities. Until now, Doctors Without Borders been able to maintain most medical programs around in Myanmar since the onset of the Military coup four months ago.
Today the Doctors Without Borders team in Dawei, in the Tanintharyi region, received a letter from the regional authorities asking us to suspend all activities.
This decision will affect 2,162 people living with HIV under care with Doctors Without Borders in the Myittar Yeik clinic, who will struggle to access antiretroviral treatment. [It will also affect] tuberculosis (TB) patients, who, since February of this year, have been seeking care at Doctors Without Borders-supported facilities due to reduced services at the National TB program.
Suspending Doctors Without Borders activities could be life-threatening for many of our patients at a time when public services remain severely disrupted. It risks further transmission of the diseases we treat. It may prevent new patients from getting diagnosed and starting lifesaving treatment. And it will deprive our patients of much needed psychosocial counseling—vital for ensuring adherence to treatment.
Doctors Without Borders team is taking all possible measures to ensure patients continue to get care. We have already provided antiretroviral drug refills to 100 patients and are arranging to send medication to those living outside Dawei.
Doctors Without Borders has been providing comprehensive HIV care in Dawei for almost two decades, including outreach programs to prevent marginalized and at-risk people—including migrant workers and people who inject drugs—from becoming infected. Until now, our activities have not been disrupted, despite the political instability affecting Myanmar.
Doctors Without Borders is in contact with regional health authorities to understand the decision and has requested the suspension order be revised so that we can continue to provide care to patients. Doctors Without Borders remains willing and ready for an open dialogue in order to allow [our teams] to provide health care for at-risk people in Dawei.