Media Release – Myanmar the world’s worst hotspot for attacks on health workers, study reveals
Shocking new figures highlight need for Australia to impose sanctions on Myanmar’s coup leaders
There have been 279 violent attacks on health centres in Myanmar since the February coup, representing almost 40% of health centre attacks worldwide and more than seven times the number of attacks recorded for Afghanistan.
The new figures reveal the extent of the crisis unfolding in Myanmar and the near total collapse of the health system, according to Results International Australia CEO, Negaya Chorley.
“The military in Myanmar is targeting health workers, arresting, torturing and even killing them as punishment for their involvement in the peaceful civil disobedience movement. At a time when COVID-19 is rampant this represents a humanitarian disaster,” Ms Chorley, says.
“The Australian government must finally join other countries in imposing sanctions on military leaders and ‘unfreeze’ the $95 million in aid which is being withheld from the country and causing significant hardship.”“There are humanitarian organisations on the ground doing critical work in Myanmar – they need funding. Simply freezing this money means critical, life-saving help is no longer available,” Ms Chorley said.
The analysis based on World Health Organisation figures shows that since the February coup there have been 279 attacks on health centres in Myanmar, representing 39% of all attacks recorded globally (717). In Afghanistan during that time there were 38 attacks on health centres.
The figures show 24 health workers have been killed since the coup and a further 60 people have been injured. Myanmar is by far the most dangerous place for health workers in the world.
Australia lags badly behind the international community in refusing to impose sanctions on Myanmar’s coup leaders, Ms Chorley said.
ASEAN’s decision to snub Myanmar, shows the weakness of the argument that Australia won’t follow the US and Europe in imposing sanctions on the junta and its businesses because it would be ‘out of step’ with other regional countries.
Results has highlighted concerns about Myanmar’s collapsed health system as the country enters its malaria season. There are fears of a resurgence in diseases such as malaria, TB and HIV as prevention and treatment programs have been disrupted by the coup and the battle to contain COVID-19.
“It is a tragedy that will have profound implications for the region in terms of the spread of COVID-19,” Ms Chorley said.
Ms Chorley said given Australia’s strong historical ties with the country and our fundamental belief in human rights, we should be leading the way in exerting diplomatic pressure and releasing much needed aid funding.
Negaya Chorley is available for interview