Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – HIV/AIDS patients being treated in Rangoon have alleged that the Health Department has restricted their stay in the former capital Rangoon.
The patients, who have completed their treatment in Rangoon Division North Okkalapa Township Wabargi Hospital, are being pressurised by the department to go back to their hometowns.
"Some have been given discharge certificates from the hospital but they could not go back to their hometowns as they are still being administered injections as outpatients. Some are waiting for ARV drugs. It is available only in Rangoon. But they don't accept this, driving us out from Rangoon even though we stay in rented rooms at our own expense. They are doing this on instructions from higher authorities," a patient, who wished not to be named for fear of reprisal by the authorities, told Mizzima.
Patients from rural areas do not want to go back to their hometowns as there are difficulties in procuring ARV and TB drugs, the patients said.
These HIV/AIDS patients were first forcibly transferred to this hospital and then they are being driven back home.
The patients are believed to be targeted by the junta as they are receiving the support and assistance from the 'National League for Democracy' (NLD) party with its headquarters in Rangoon.
The Health Department officials accompanied by police of the Special Branch came to North Okkalapa Ahthawka Rama Shwehintha Yele monastery on January 19 where the HIV patients were staying while being treated. And then they were forced to go to the Waybargi hospital opposite the monastery. These patients had stayed in this monastery for about two years.
A total of 24 patients were forcibly transferred to Waybargi hospital of which 11 were men, seven women and 11 children.
The volunteer for HIV/AIDS education, counseling, arranging accommodation and assisting them to get treatment is NLD party member and prominent HIV/AIDS activist Phyu Phyu Thin. She was arrested by the authorities in May 2007 but the patients staged protest demonstrations for her release.
Medicines Sans Frontier (MSF) released a report recently which said that 25,000 HIV/AIDS patients died in 2007 alone due to the negligence of the Burmese junta and the international community. About 75,000 patients badly need ARV drugs, the report added.