Naga re­gion still grap­pling with measles out­break

The Myanmar Times - - News -

A LO­CAL law­maker in Sa­gaing Re­gion said yes­ter­day that al­though the measles out­break in the Naga SelfAd­min­is­tered Zone is un­der con­trol in Lahe town­ship, neigh­bour­ing Nanyun town­ship is still strug­gling to con­tain and treat a spate of ill­nesses, which some are now say­ing is not the same mal­ady.

“The sit­u­a­tion is sta­ble in Lahe. Cur­rently, Nanyun is worse off than Lahe. [Ac­cord­ing to] the lat­est data, two more peo­ple were killed – one on Au­gust 23 and an­other one on Au­gust 25,” said re­gional MP U Law Yone (NLD; Lahe 1).

“We got news that 82 pa­tients were killed in Naga,” he said, while not­ing that the death toll was un­con­firmed. A team that in­cludes an of­fi­cial from the Naga ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fice has gone into the field to con­firm the sit­u­a­tion, he added.

“Medicine and food as­sis­tance is needed for lo­cals be­cause they have been fac­ing mal­nour­ish­ment. Cur­rently, donors and the gov­ern­ment are of­fer­ing sup­port­ing aid.”

U Law Yone added, “Health ex­perts said that Nanyun is not a measles out­break but the ac­counts of civil­ians said the symp­toms of pa­tients from Nanyun re­sem­bled Lahe’s symp­toms.”

U Aung Htut, pres­i­dent of the Naga Tra­di­tional Lit­er­a­ture and Cul­tural Cen­tre Com­mit­tee, said a lack of both trans­porta­tion and ed­u­ca­tion was caus­ing the high ca­su­alty count from the in­fec­tious dis­ease, ex­ac­er­bated by high rates of mal­nu­tri­tion in the selfad­min­is­tered zone.

“The roads sit­u­a­tion is worse in Nanyun than Lahe,” he said.

“I reached both Lahe and Nanyun. I saw chil­dren suf­fer­ing se­vere mal­nu­tri­tion,” said U Aung Htut. “MoH [the Min­istry of Health] has im­ple­mented a vac­ci­na­tion pro­gram to in­ject the measles vac­cine. They an­nounced that Nanyun is not a measles out­break – it is knock-on health prob­lems caused by mal­nu­tri­tion and a lack of hy­giene.”

Chil­dren un­der five years old have con­sti­tuted a ma­jor­ity of the out­break’s vic­tims.

At a press con­fer­ence on Au­gust 26 cov­er­ing the first 100 days of the new gov­ern­ment, the Min­istry of Health said that in ad­di­tion to dif­fi­cul­ties phys­i­cally ac­cess­ing af­fected pop­u­la­tions, lan­guage bar­ri­ers were also stymieing ef­fec­tive treat­ment.

The min­istry said its vac­ci­na­tion drive since the out­break first made head­lines had cov­ered 85 per­cent of the re­gion, in­clud­ing 15,054 chil­dren.

With the Naga Self-Ad­min­is­tered Zone’s health­care woes high­lighted by this month’s out­break, Dr Htar Htar Lin told The Myan­mar Times yes­ter­day that the gov­ern­ment would draw up a long-term plan to ad­dress the prob­lems.

In the near term, said Dr Htar Htar Lin, the Min­istry of Health’s deputy di­rec­tor for im­mu­ni­sa­tion, there are plans to ad­min­is­ter 10 other vac­cines in Oc­to­ber, Novem­ber and De­cem­ber to pro­tect against other po­ten­tial health threats in the re­gion.

At the 100-day press con­fer­ence last week, Union Health Min­is­ter Dr Myint Htwe warned that out­breaks of measles and other in­fec­tious dis­eases were likely to be seen in re­gions other than Naga as well.

“When we ex­am­ined why that dis­ease was oc­cur­ring, it was found that most peo­ple in our coun­try are pretty lack­ing in health knowl­edge,” he said, not­ing that the risk of con­tract­ing measles could be avoided with pre­ven­ta­tive im­mu­ni­sa­tion.

Of the Naga re­gion’s un­der­de­vel­oped health­care and trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture, he said, “We have many ar­eas like that. If there are satel­lite phones to re­port in­for­ma­tion from re­mote ar­eas, we can know in time and many peo­ple would not have died like now.”

He added that the Naga re­gion would be used as a case study to help in­form the de­vel­op­ment of a broader na­tional health plan.

“We will have to con­sider the case that oc­curred in Lahe on the whole,” he said. “We will have to con­sider it as [part of] a na­tional plan not to al­low such dis­eases to oc­cur, es­pe­cially in re­mote ar­eas.”

– Trans­la­tion by Thiri Min Htun

‘The sit­u­a­tion in Lahe [town­ship] is sta­ble. Cur­rently, Nanyun is worse off than Lahe.’ U Law Yone Sa­gaing Re­gion law­maker

PYAE THET PHYO

MYINT KAY THI

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