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

ng of AIDS care. In 2005, 34 percent of tuberculosis cases in Burma were resistant to any one of the four standard first-line drug treatments, which is double the rate of drug-resistant cases in neighboring countries. Nearly half of all deaths from malaria in Asia occur in Burma. The report also reveals that 70 percent of anti-malarial pills sold in Burma contain substandard amounts of active ingredients, which increases the risk of drug-resistance.

"There is a growing humanitarian crisis in Burma. In our report, we document how the ruling government's policies have restricted nearly all aid and allowed serious infectious diseases to spread unchecked," said Beyrer, who is also an associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Bloomberg School. "With the global spread of bird flu, there is a fear that if a human form of H5N1 were to take hold in Burma, it could potentially spread unchecked for weeks or months before anyone knew about it. Uncontrolled spread of any disease, especially an emerging disease like H5N1, poses a serious health threat to Burma's populous neighbors, like China and India, as well as the rest of the world."

The report also documents threats and restrictions to foreign relief workers and relief groups, including the Red Cross. Because of the deteriorating situation, the United Nations Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was forced to withdraw its five-year, $96 million dollar grant agreement with Burma. Backpack Health Worker Team, an aid group that provides primary health care services in rural areas of Eastern Burma and Thailand, is also raising concerns about its ability to monitor and contain outbreaks of bird flu and other diseases.

"The Burmese junta is increasing restrictions on humanitarian assistance and public health while the health of Burmese people deteriorates, posing a widening threat to Burma and her neighbors," said Beyrer.


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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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