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AIDS, TB, malaria and bird flu spread unchecked in Burma

Government policies in Burma that restrict public health and humanitarian aid have created an environment where AIDS, drug-resistant tuberculosis, malaria and bird flu (H5N1) are spreading unchecked, according to a report by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In that report authors Chris Beyrer, MD, MPH, director of the Bloomberg School's Center for Public Health and Human Rights, Luke Mullany, PhD, Voravit Suwanvanichkij, MD, MPH and Nicole Franck, MHS, document the spread of these infectious diseases, which if left unchecked, could pose a serious health threat to other Southeast Asia nations and the world. They believe international cooperation and policies are needed to restore humanitarian assistance to the Burmese people, but caution that new restrictions imposed by the military junta are making such efforts more difficult. The full report was presented at a briefing for State Department leaders on March 24 and is available from the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health and Human Rights at www.jhsph.edu/burma. The report is also under review for publication with the journal Public Library of Science Medicine (PLoS Medicine).

The report states that Burma reported its first cases of bird flu among poultry to the World Health Organization on March 8, 2006. However, the ruling junta censored reports of the outbreak to its own public until March 17-- by which time the outbreak killed 10,000 more birds and 41,000 needed to be culled to stem further spreading.

The report documents a longstanding and severe under funding of health and education programs in Burma. Health expenditures in Burma are among the lowest globally, including an annual budget of less than $22,000 for the prevention and treatment of HIV among a total population of 43 million people. Much of the country lacks basic laboratory facilities to carry out a CD4 blood test, the minimum standard for clinical monitori
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Contact: Tim Parsons
paffairs@jhsph.edu
410-955-6878
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
27-Mar-2006


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