September 19, 2018
The Rohingya Refugee Crisis: One Year On
While access to antiretroviral treatment is increasing, almost 50,000 people are still in urgent need of it. The main communities affected by HIV in Myanmar are people who inject drugs and sex workers. These groups are often discriminated against by mainstream society and Myanmar’s public health system, making it extremely difficult for them to access to the care that they need.
In Kachin state, Doctors of the World works with people who inject drugs to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases. Around 23% of people who inject drugs in Myanmar have HIV, and only 22% have received HIV testing and know their results. In Kachin state, ongoing violence and conflict has often caused instability in accessing the necessary preventative treatment for HIV and other diseases transmitted through drug use.
Our teams currently manage 4 health clinics where we organize educational workshops on antiretroviral treatment. In 2016 we were able to reach 10,000 users with our harm reduction activities. In addition we also placed 1,300 drug users on methadone substitution therapy and provided 1,200 people with antiretroviral treatment.
Doctors of the World has been working with sex workers in Yangon since 2014. 15% of sex workers in Myanmar have HIV, one of the highest rates in Southeast Asia, but only 45% receive testing for the disease. We work out of mobile clinics to provide preventative material, screenings and treatment for HIV positive women and men.
We also have a fixed clinic where we provide antiretroviral treatment that sees over 1,000 people every year. In addition to receiving treatment, patients can also access counseling and be screened for other diseases such as tuberculosis. In 2016 we provided 1,300 sex workers with treatment for HIV and distributed over 1 million condoms.
The ongoing violence has caused more than 800,000 Rohingya to flee across the border into Bangladesh, where many are now residing in squalid refugee camps with little access to food, water or medical care.
In Bangladesh, Doctors of the World has partnered with Bangladeshi NGO Gonoshasthaya Kendra (GK) to assess and respond to the needs of the Rohingyas living in Bangladesh’s border refugee camps. We are also supporting the Bangladeshi government’s efforts to provide medical care to the refugees, including primary and mental healthcare for those who have witnessed or experienced extreme violence. Along with our national partners, Doctors of the World has set up medical clinics in the camps and is currently serving around 700 patients a day. Read more about our work with the Rohingya here.