Ethnic Health Organisation Wants Cross Border Support For COVID-19 Prevention

By Network Media Group
Thursday, May 20, 2021

With many people who joined the protest movement fleeing to the border areas, an ethnic health organisation said it is struggling to maintain health services for the local community and the new arrivals, while testing everyone to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak.

“After the military coup, many people who join Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) sought protection in the ethnic areas,” said Saw Nay Htoo, the general secretary for Ethnic Health Committee (EHC). There were already many people displaced by the conflict he explained, and now EHC needs to provide health care for both groups.

Saw Nay Htoo explained the threat of COVID-19 is real. But they don’t have the “capacity” for testing everyone coming from cities, where it is more “crowded” and they could be carrying the virus traveling to the countryside.

“We’re trying to stop the pandemic in our ethnic regions, but need personal protective equipment, a testing machine and equipment.” He wants the international community to step up by “providing assistance” for “cross-border aid”.

Many health professionals, who spearheaded the CDM, have been forced to flee, with some ending up along the border. “In certain regions, we are working with these medical doctors and health workers,” Saw Nay Htoo said. If they could get support from the international community, he said they could provide health services independent of the military regime. Before the coup, the central government provided some assistance. After the political crisis, however, it has completely stopped.

EHC is asking India, Bangladesh, China and Thailand to donate vaccines and they can inoculate their own communities to stop the spread of the virus. Saw Nay Htoo heard some people were vaccinated in areas of northern Burma controlled by Kachin Independence Organisation and wants the same for the communities that EHC helping. These include regions in Mon, Karen, Karenni, Shan and Kachin states.