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Burma: the struggle of nurses who secretly care for coronavirus patients

Some nurses from Burma They run makeshift clinics secretly from the ruling junta to treat coronavirus patients and resistance fighters, with drugs that are smuggled through military checkpoints.

They they are always ready to flee because health workers are on the front lines of a civil movement against the February coup and the crackdown on dissent, which has left more than 1,300 dead, according to a local monitoring group.

A boycott of government institutions left many hospitals without staff, and the board arrested and killed numerous workers protesting health workers, according to human rights groups.

Aye Naing, an assumed name, left her job at a public hospital and began working in June as a volunteer in the eastern state of Kayah, where there have been numerous clashes between the military and anti-coup fighters.

In Kayah, around 85,000 people have been displaced by the violence. AFP photo


“When the fighting starts we have to run and hide in the jungle,” he told AFP in a hidden clinic in a school abandoned due to fighting near the town of Demoso.

Following a devastating wave of covid-19 in June and July, with up to 40,000 daily cases, the board said that infections fell to 150 per day and that no cases of the omicron variant have been detected in Burma.

However, the poor health system performs little testing.

In Kayah, about 85,000 people they have been displaced by violence, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and many are huddled in camps where infections spread easily.

Most of Aye Naing’s patients are displaced families and fighters from the Popular Defense Forces (FDP), a militia that has sprung up across the country to fight the junta.

“They told me that there were not many doctors and health personnel in this area and that the residents asked for them, “he said.

“So I decided to come and try to get medical equipment,” he added.

Boys doing exercises in a camp for displaced people in Burma.  AFP photo

Boys doing exercises in a camp for displaced people in Burma. AFP photo

Without drugs

In one village, his team tests for the virus through plastic film, and those who test positive receive paracetamol or vitamins. the only drugs available.

The donated oxygen is used cautiously because loading the tanks involves a trip to the next large town, past junta checkpoints.

At the end of her shift, Aye Naing takes off the plastic protective suit and disinfects it, just like your mask and leaves them ready for the next shift.

In an empty classroom, an infected FDP fighter spends his quarantine playing guitar.

In the hardiness zones, the military blocked the delivery of aid humanitarian and medical team, according to a recent Human Rights Watch report.

“The Burmese military checks everyone at their gates and arrests people carrying medicine,” said Hla Aung, a nurse at the clinic whose name was altered to protect her identity.

In the six months after the coup, 190 health workers were arrested and 25 killed, according to a report by Insecurity Insight, Physicians for Human Rights and Johns Hopkins University.

But Aye Naing is not going to give up.

“The support of my parents keeps me strong,” he said. “My father sends as much medicine as he can.”

Source: AFP



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