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Health workers start anti-coup protests in coronavirus-hit Myanmar

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Medical workers throughout Myanmar started a civil disobedience protest in opposition to Monday’s coup, carrying pink ribbons and declaring they gained’t work for the brand new navy authorities.

The military takeover that ousted the civilian authorities of Aung San Suu Kyi over allegations of fraud in November’s elections couldn’t have come at a worse time for a rustic battling a gentle rise in COVID-19 circumstances with a dangerously insufficient well being system.

“We want to show the world we are totally against military dictatorship and we want our elected government and leader back,” stated Dr Zun Ei Phyu, who lives in Yangon, the most important metropolis and business capital. “We want to show them we will follow only our elected government. Not the military.”

Health workers in authorities hospitals and services issued an announcement Wednesday opposing the coup. Photos had been shared on social media exhibiting workers with pink ribbons pinned to their garments or holding printed images of pink ribbons. Others used a three-finger salute that has turn out to be an emblem of pro-democracy protests in neighbouring Thailand, the place a former common has led the federal government since a 2014 coup.

Some medical workers went on strike whereas others who continued work in government-run clinics made public their opposition to the brand new navy rulers.

Some of these on strike have begun to volunteer at charity well being clinics, lots of which had been shut down as a precaution in opposition to a surge in COVID-19 circumstances. The clinics which have remained reopen are extending their working hours so folks can nonetheless obtain care in the course of the protest, Zun Ei Phyu stated.

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“We give free treatment and medicine to anyone who is in need,” she stated, including the clinics typically function with donations from charities and native communities.

Myanmar’s early response to the pandemic mirrored that of many international locations: borders had been almost utterly closed, prolonged quarantines had been imposed on travellers and each day life slowed with stay-at-home orders.

It appeared to work till early September, when circumstances exploded from lower than 1,000 to some 14,300 a month later. Now with greater than 140,600 confirmed circumstances and three,100 deaths, Myanmar’s fragile well being system faces the right storm of the pandemic and the coup.

“You could expect the military to take full advantage of COVID-19 as a political opportunity, not as a healthcare responsibility to the people of Myanmar,” stated Ronan Lee, a visiting scholar on the Queen Mary University of London’s International State Crime Initiative.

History exhibits these issues will not be with out advantage.

In 2000, a long time after the previous navy junta took management, the World Health Organization (WHO) ranked Myanmar’s well being system as one of many worst. According to the World Bank, Myanmar’s well being expenditure was round 1.87 per cent of its GDP in 2010, the 12 months earlier than democratic reforms started.

In March 2020, Myanmar reported simply 0.71 intensive care unit beds and 0.46 ventilators per 100,000 inhabitants, which was inadequate to take care of even a average outbreak, based on knowledge from the World Bank and WHO.

Donations of medical gear have since arrived and the federal government has elevated mattress capability with new quarantine centres, clinics and hospitals. But specialists cite an absence of medical workers as a unbroken drawback.

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Myanmar’s small healthcare drive had simply 6.7 physicians per 10,000 folks in 2018, considerably decrease than the worldwide common of 15.6 in 2017.

The coup comes simply days after Myanmar launched its vaccination marketing campaign with some 15 lakh doses of a two-shot vaccine donated by India. Last week, Suu Kyi noticed vaccinations at a hospital in the capital, Naypyitaw, and advised reporters that the method should proceed rigorously as a result of the federal government doesn’t have all of the provides it wants.

The navy has its personal medical corps and medical services throughout the nation. But Sharon Bell, a researcher who beforehand studied the well being system in Myanmar, stated she doesn’t anticipate the navy can have the power to manage outbreaks or conduct adequate vaccination programmes.

The navy launched an announcement saying “prevention of the current outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic will be efficiently carried out with momentum”. According to Lee, when the navy talks about getting the virus below management, it means “locking down the community and preventing opportunities for public expressions of opposition to their rule”.

“I expect they will use the pandemic as a shield to defend them from scrutiny,” he stated.

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