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By Marwaan Macan-Markar
BANGKOK (IPS) - Political reforms unfolding in Myanmar (or Burma) are giving health workers a chance to address a resurgence of drug-resistant falciparum malaria in the war-torn ethnic minority enclaves along the country’s eastern borders.
Carrying medical aid in backpacks they have been dodging bullets and avoiding mines to deliver healthcare to villagers in the remote border areas that are home to ethnic minorities such as the Karen, Shan and Kachin.
"Due to recent political changes, our health workers have more freedom to access areas formerly restricted by the Burmese army," Mahn Mahn, secretary of the Back Pack Health Worker Team (BPHWT), a non-profit that has been attending to the health needs of nearly 200,000 ethnic minority people in Myanmar for over a decade, told IPS.
Improved healthcare along eastern Myanmar could not have been timed better because of emerging concern over possible genetic mutation of the Plasmodium falciparum that makes the deadly parasite resistant to artemisinin, the most effective anti-malaria drug. Read the full story