Flood vic­tims vul­ner­a­ble to dengue fever

Mizzima Business Weekly - - AFFAIRS // NEWS -

In re­sponse to flood­ing in Myan­mar, MSF has sent teams to the heav­ily af­fected Sa­gaing re­gion the or­gan­i­sa­tion said in a state­ment posted on its web­site on 17 Au­gust.

Thou­sands of peo­ple are now liv­ing in makeshift camps lo­cated in schools, monas­ter­ies or churches.

Two weeks af­ter se­vere flood­ing af­fected an es­ti­mated one mil­lion peo­ple across Myan­mar, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is ex­pand­ing its sup­port to the gov­ern­ment’s re­sponse in both Rakhine State and Sa­gaing Re­gion.

It is hoped the teams will both help meet the im­me­di­ate needs of those di­rectly af­fected by flood­ing, and mit­i­gate the el­e­vated risk fac­ing com­mu­ni­ties from wa­ter- and mos­quito-borne in­fec­tious dis­eases, in­clud­ing malaria, di­ar­rhoea, and dengue fever.

Dengue fever is en­demic to Rakhine state and Sa­gaing re­gion, where thou­sands of peo­ple are cur­rently liv­ing in makeshift camps in schools, monas­ter­ies and churches fol­low­ing the flood­ing. Ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Health, be­tween Jan­uary and July a dengue out­break al­ready in­fected 16,000 peo­ple na­tion­wide.

“This is peak dengue sea­son and we need to re­main vig­i­lant af­ter the floods to pre­vent fur­ther spread,” says Lies­beth Ael­brecht, MSF Myan­mar Coun­try Di­rec­tor. “We will fo­cus on help­ing treat the dis­ease as well as train­ing Min­istry of Health staff and vol­un­teers on how to fu­mi­gate po­ten­tial breed­ing sites and to spread mes­sages to com­mu­ni­ties about dengue preven­tion.”

In Kalay, the most im­pacted town­ship in Sa­gaing, over 80 per­cent of ru­ral ar­eas are af­fected by flood­ing and around 22,000 peo­ple dis­placed. In the com­ing days, MSF will do­nate 13,000 mos­quito nets to help pre­vent any po­ten­tial out­break there, as well as 600 rapid di­ag­nos­tic tests able to de­tect dengue in twenty min­utes.

In Rakhine State, MSF has com­ple­mented its im­me­di­ate flood re­sponse with sur­veil­lance for in­fec­tious dis­eases, par­tic­u­larly dengue, and is ready to re­spond to an out­break if re­quired. In Maung­daw Town­ship MSF teams are ac­tively seek­ing and treat­ing pa­tients with di­ar­rhoea, and train­ing lo­cal health work­ers to do the same. In Buithi­daung Town­ship, which re­mains very dif­fi­cult to ac­cess, MSF is also ready to as­sist in case of out­break.

MSF will also be­gin sup­port­ing the Min­istry of Health’s gen­eral med­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties in Kalay, where many dis­placed peo­ple are suf­fer­ing from res­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tions, skin prob­lems, and in­fluenza. MSF will also do­nate ma­te­ri­als to build ad­di­tional la­trines.

In ad­di­tion, a mo­bile med­i­cal team will be sent to Tamu Town­ship, north of Kalay, which is also badly af­fected by flood­ing and largely in­ac­ces­si­ble.


Farm­ers sur­vey their flooded fields. Photo: Hong Sar/Mizzima

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