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Health workers struggle to respond amid severe restrictions in Rakhine state, Myanmar

Community health workers provide vital care

For the past nine weeks, despite our attempts to find solutions to these blockages, such as providing tele-consultations between patients and doctors, our community health workers are some of the only people with direct access to our patients.

Ann Thar Clinic in Min Bya supports over 4,000 displaced people from both Rakhine and Rohingya communities. MSF teams have been unable to run the clinic since 13 November. On 17 November, Min Bya General Hospital, a hospital that MSF uses for emergency referrals came under fire. 

“My name is Aung Aung*. I am a community health worker from Ann Thar clinic. The difference here before and after the current conflict is very clear. I was able to do my work regularly and peacefully before, but after the current fighting, I can’t.

“Instead, I am constantly worrying that something might happen, feeling insecure while on the street, and so I take detours using the fields. It’s not safe anymore,” says Aung Aung. 

“I’m a community health worker, so my medical skill set is limited. In situations like these, what I can do is to call the doctors and look after the patients according to their instructions. But sometimes, mobile connections are not working, so I have difficulty reaching them. 

“There are patients with non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, too, but we don’t have medicines for them now. I’m still unsure how our team is going to arrange it. Currently, we have medicines for antenatal care and epilepsy patients,” says Aung Aung.

“Rising petrol prices are one of the major challenges we face as well. If people wanted to go to the town to pay a visit to a clinic it would cost them around 60,000Ks (around US$29) for a round trip. The town is only five miles from our village. So, the travel cost would be more expensive than their actual healthcare expenses. 

This rise in cost has happened since the fighting broke out. It was only 2,000 Ks – 2,500Ks (around US$1) before. I am worried and concerned for our patients here in the village. In the future, for emergency patients, and for those who need a monthly prescription, they will face a lot of difficulties. As long as the roads are blocked and fighting continues, clinics and pharmacies in Min Bya town will remain closed.”

Fonte original msf.org

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