Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Burmese officials have reversed their order to evict Aids patients from a hospice Aung San Suu Kyi visited last week.
Patients at South Dagon HIV /Aids “salvation centre”, run by the National League for Democracy (NLD), have been permitted to renew their guest registrations at the local authority, so were able to remain at the centre, a patient told Mizzima.
“The authorities removed their ban on guest registration for us. So we can now renew our guest registrations for a week as we could before the order … was issued … we have to renew our registration every seven days,” Htin Aung said.
At about 7 p.m. on Thursday, two NLD youth wing members met Ward Peace and Development Council chairman Than Soe, who agreed to permit the registrations.
The day after Suu Kyi visited on November 17, local junta authorities refused to register the patients as guests as required by junta laws, which state that if a Burmese citizen wants to stay overnight at a friend’s home or anywhere else they are absent from that accommodation's register, the person must report the visit to ward authorities. The reporting is usually a formality and the requests seldom denied. The ward appeared to be using the regulation to thwart NLD activities.
South Dagon Township Peace and Development Council chairman Ko Ko Hlaing then ordered the patients out of the centre and into Tharketa Hospital or told them to return to their family homes, many of which are far from Rangoon.
However, the patients said they were reluctant to move because of government hospitals’ poor services. They also feared the expense of buying medicines there as they had been dispensed free of charge at the NLD centre.
“We don’t think that the government hospitals can fully support us. That’s why we don’t want to go into the hospital. Here, we have been supported even for transport costs. And the centre puts our minds at ease,” said Htin Aung, who has lived in the centre for three years.
Htin Aung had initially been admitted to the Special Hospital at Mingaladon Township for emergency treatment for one-and-half months. There are 12 patients from the NLD centre receiving treatment there now.
The oldest patient at the centre is 51 years old; the youngest, under 10. Most of the patients are from Irrawaddy Division or Upper Burma.
The state-run mouthpiece New Light of Myanmar reported on Wednesday that a medical team led by Rangoon Region Health Department chief Dr. Hla Myint had visited the centre on July 7 and explained to the group that as there were many patients at the shelter, living in limited space, conditions could be conducive to drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB), a common opportunistic infection experienced by Aids sufferers. The mouthpiece claimed that 30 patients from the centre were infected with TB.
However, Yarza, a manager at the centre, said it was run by young medical workers under instruction from specialists and that there were only a few patients who had been infected with TB. He added the centre would obey the patients’ will.
New Light of Myanmar also claimed that 30 special hospitals under the Ministry of Health were providing medical treatment to HIV/Aids patients, and that 11 NGOs and 21 INGOs had been allowed to take care of the patients in Burma. It said a total of 345 patients were receiving treatment at such hospitals in North Okkalapa, Mingaladon and Tharketa.
International organisations said on 2007 that there were about 230,000 HIV-positive people in Burma.