Burma Medical Association (BMA):
Bangkok Post report of Burma Medical Association (BMA) First Conference, July 2001
"Mental health problems, disease increase at border"
by Supamart Kasem
Bangkok Post, Sunday July 8, 2001
Doctors are worried about rising mental health problems and communicable diseases among people living along the Thai-Burmese border. So called "mobile populations", including refugees and cheap labour, did not have access to proper health care and were poorly educated about public health, said the Burma Medical Association (BMA). The group covers more than three million people on both sides of the border.
Dr Myat Too, the association's deputy chairman, said cases of mental health problems were on the rise while the spread of communicable diseases went unabated. Facing economic hardship, many people turn to drugs, he said.
The doctor was speaking during a four-day conference in Burma border Tak, to discuss ways to promote better mental health and stop the spread of communicable diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV.
Dr Myat Too also criticized the public health system in Burma, saying it was lagging behind other countries. On the World health Organization's list, Burma ranked 191 out of 192 countries for its public health services.
Dr Cynthia Maung, head of Mae Toa clinic, set up in 1989 to treat people along the border, said the number of patients seeking help was rising. In the past, most were treated for malaria, but the number of patients with tuberculosis, HIV and drug abuse problems was growing.
Dr Cynthia, the association's chairperson, said she would seek closer ties with the WHO.
This statement first appeared on the Burmese American Democratic Alliance [an umbrella
activist organization in the San Francisco Bay area] website which no longer seems
to be active. Archived material from the BADA website has been edited for inclusion on the Burma Watch
International Web site.