MSF concerned for welfare of healthcare workers and people in Myanmar

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has worked in Myanmar since 1992 and was the first INGO in the country. We are currently running medical projects in Rakhine, Shan, Kachin, Sagaing Region, Tanintharyi and Yangon, offering services including basic healthcare, reproductive care, emergency referrals, and malaria treatment. In 2019, MSF treated over 15,000 HIV patients nationwide, as well as 1,540 patients with hepatitis C and over 400 people for tuberculosis.

More than 50,000 people were displaced in 2019 due to continuous fighting in Rakhine state. MSF then assisted the displaced in Buthidaung and Maungdaw by distributing relief items, running mobile clinics and conducting health education and psychosocial support sessions. In Central Rakhine, MSF continues to work in displacement camps where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya are being detained. We also deployed seven mobile clinics offering general healthcare, emergency referrals and mental health support.

Historically, MSF began providing HIV/AIDS care and health education, as well as the screening and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases in Yangon from 1994 and became one of the largest providers of HIV treatment in Myanmar. Our teams have also treated over 1.2 million malaria patients in the state since 2004 and provided assistance to 460,000 people following Cyclone Nargis in 2008.

MSF Statement on Myanmar Coup 

Independent medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is gravely concerned about the recent unlawful arrests and detainment of healthcare workers, and people from the wider general public, following the military coup in Myanmar on 1 February 2021.

The arrests, and the widespread restrictions following the recently imposed 'state of emergency', have the potential to severely interrupt the life-saving healthcare that MSF, and others, have been providing to some of the most vulnerable people in Myanmar. This puts the safety of the wider public at risk, with mass detainments likely leading to further outbreaks of COVID-19. Alongside the arrests, the reports of violence against protestors, and the potential escalation of this violence, is greatly concerning.

We are also deeply concerned about the harassment and intimidation faced by members of the medical community in Myanmar, and also the intimidation and arrests of people in the wider community. We see this crisis brings real fears, expressed by so many of our colleagues, and worry for the immediate and long-term effect on public health and general safety.

In all circumstances, and regardless of age, religion or political affiliation, our patients come first, as does the safety of our staff and the partners we work with. We will continue to deliver impartial medical care to the most vulnerable to the best of our capacity and while access and circumstances still allow for the provision of care. Currently, our programs are running but staff movements have been restricted. We continue to monitor the situation closely and are ready to adapt our medical humanitarian response as needed.