Mohamed (not his real name) lives in Sindaung village, Buthidaung, in Arakan State, western Burma. The fifty year-old Rohingya man goes to Buthidaung Government Hospital, which is ten kilometers from his home for treatment for illness caused by urinary complications, which have troubled him for ten years.
He told Kaladan News, the government doctor treats his symptoms with medications like Cotrain DS, Paracetamal and vitamins.
“When I eat them, I feel a little bit better,” Mohamed said in recent interview.
“However, when my condition got worse, I applied to Burma’s border security force, or Nasaka, for a travel pass to go Akyab (Sittwe) to be checked by the Urology specialist. But, the Nasaka refused to grant the travel pass,” he said.
“I feel worse day by day and I don’t know when I will die. I have no opportunity to go to Bangladesh from Burma for treatment because I don’t have the money.”
He said treatment in Bangladesh requires a border pass, which will cost more than 50,000 kyat.
“Where can I get this money?” he asked.
“The authorities impose various restrictions on Arakanese Rohingya, including restriction of movement. They only do this to Rohingya. If anyone wants to go to Akyab for treatment, he must pay huge bribes to the concerned authority.”
Like Mohamed, many Rohingya people have been suffering from lack of proper medical treatment for different diseases, including urinary problems, kidney stones, malaria, heart disease, ulcers and tuberculoses.
Many Rohingya people in northern Arakan State have died because they could not access medical treatment, Mohammed said.
A sixty year woman from Maungdaw, who asked not to be identified, said she has been suffering from kidney problems and other diseases for a year.
She said she has been trying to travel to Bangladesh for treatment; but she also can’t afford to pay the fee for the border pass, which only allows the patient to stay in Bangladesh for 7 days.
The United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) said in a recent report it continues to intervene at all levels of government in order to address restrictions on freedom of movement, restrictions on marriage and birth rights and land confiscation. It also addresses protection issues that arise as a result of cultural practices by working with community and religious leaders, women, children and other vulnerable groups. The UNHCR said it is increasing its focus on programs that promote peaceful coexistence between the Muslim and Rakhine communities.
A school teacher, who asked to remain anonymous, told Kaladan Press that international NGOs provide basic treatment to poor people. If a patient becomes seriously ill they are referred to the government hospital.
However, the Rohingya minority does not have citizenship status in the three townships of Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung, in northern Arakan State. They need guaranteed access to basic public services, including health, clean water, sanitation and education.
“We Rohingya hoped to get some concessions from Burmese authorities after the 2010 elections, including freedom of movement, access to medical facilities, education facilities and equal rights enjoyed by other ethnic groups,” a former Rohingya politician said in an interview.
“We are concerned about our future in Arakan State. Harassment is increasing day by day.”
Another woman, Mahamuda Khatun, was able to access treatment for tuberculosis in Bangladesh, after suffering with the disease for five years because she did not receive proper treatment at the government hospital in Buthidaung.
That is because she and her late husband, Nurul Alam, fled to Bangladesh from Burma three years ago.
Now, the thirty year-old widow and their two children live as illegal refugees in horrible conditions at the Kutupalong makeshift camp, on the edge of the official UNHCR sponsored camp there.
She is struggling to find enough food and firewood to cook with.
However, she is taking treatment and medicine for her tuberculosis provided by BRAC through the help of the MSF (Holland), which has a clinic near the camp, she said.
“MSF is not providing TB care in our programme in Kutapalong, but refers all potential TB patients to BRAC (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee),a NGOs, who provide the treatment. MSF does the follow up on patients to guarantee they take their drugs the required time,” according to Susanne Doettling, Communications Advisor, Médecins Sans Frontières / MSF (Amsterdam) for Bangladesh, Iraq, Myanmar, Pakistan and Uganda.
Mohamed and other Rohingyas in Arakan State, as well as refugees in Bangladesh, are urging the Burmese government to provide Rohingya patients with open access to affordable health care in Akyab (Sittwee), so that living in such horrible conditions in Bangladesh will not be necessary.
“The urinary system removes a type of waste called urea from your blood. Urea is produced when foods containing protein, such as meat, poultry, and certain vegetables, are broken down in the body. Urea is carried in the bloodstream to the kidneys. Problems in the urinary system can be caused by aging, illness, or injury. As you get older, changes in the kidneys’ structure cause them to lose some of their ability to remove wastes from the blood. Also, the muscles in your ureters, bladder, and urethra tend to lose some of their strength. You may have more urinary infections because the bladder muscles do not tighten enough to empty your bladder completely. A decrease in strength of muscles of the sphincters and the pelvis can also cause incontinence, the unwanted leakage of urine. Illness or injury can also prevent the kidneys from filtering the blood completely or block the passage of urine,” according to an information of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) in US.
According to UNHCR report in 2011 of Burma, in south-eastern Myanmar, UNHCR provides humanitarian assistance to mitigate the effects of displacement on communities. These communities lack essential public services such as health centres and clean water, as well as shelter, protection and livelihood support. The projects focus on the construction and rehabilitation of basic infrastructure. Other projects, such as shelter interventions, target vulnerable individuals and families, including female-headed households. Additional needs include mine risk education, as well as livelihood opportunities