Narinjara news

Drug Resistant strain of Malaria breaks out in western Burma

Maungdaw, 12 December
:  The age-old disease of malaria has broken out in a new malignant form in the western part of Burma, reports our correspondent.

In the barracks of the Nasaka border security troops, a new directive has been issued to compulsorily distribute malarial preventive drugs among the troops during the roll-call fall-in every Monday.  The directive follows just after the death of a police sub-inspector, Khin Maung Thein, of malaria on 29th November.  He was the officer-in-charge of Taik-chaung police station at Nasaka sector one.

A large number of deaths among the security troops prior to that of the sub-inspector usually went unnoticed, but this particular instance of death sent an alarm among the higher officials in the ranks.  The present   official directive only shows the seriousness of the outbreak of the age-old disease in the western part of
Burma, known as Rakhine State.

A physician in the area told our correspondent that the rate of the outbreak of drug resistant type of malaria this year has become alarming. Half of the malarial patients who report to the hospitals are of this type posing concern not only to the health of the patients but also to the spread of the disease among the general population. As the patients are deprived of proper medication in adequate doses, the malarial patients develop the drug resistant type of malaria, he said.

The directive to the Nasaka troops also contained warnings of proper distribution of preventive malarial drugs among each and every members of the camp, duly signed by the troop who received and took the drug, and the officer-in-charge who properly supervised it.  The directive also warned that, if any death due to malaria occurred in the camp, the respective paramedic, medic and officer-in-charge will have to face serious consequences.

Though such international NGOs like MSF are working inside the western part of
Burma, they can hardly tackle with the outbreak of the disease because of the enormity of the situation, especially during the dry months that follow the monsoons.   Lack of anti-malarial drugs in the state hospitals, and the high cost of imported or smuggled medicines make the proper treatment of the disease almost impossible among the majority of the people in Rakhine State who live under the poverty line.  The number of death each year cannot be determined as there is no data published either by the health department or any NGOs.  But a physician at the state hospital said that the number could be as many as one thousand every month during the ‘malarial season’, when ten out of the seventeen township state hospitals have as many as thirty or more malarial patients everyday. There are rarely any household in the western part of Burma that has not suffered the attack of the disease, our correspondent added.  #