Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Health Status of Burmese Refugees in Delhi


Who suffer most?
The total number of patients come to Yamuna Clinic is increasing since the opening of the clinic in 2002. It began with 10 to 20 patients per clinic day in 2002 and as of the last clinic day, 13-9-08 the total number of patients became 80.

It means
(1) More refugees are aware of health, and/or
(2) More refugees rely on the Clinic, and/or
(3) More refugees are having health problems.

Out of the total patients (80) sought medical treatment on 13-9-08, 51 are female and it means female patients are 63.75% of total patients. So women have to suffer most! Therefore women specific health program needs to be assisted. When fund was made available, nutrition and assistance program was done in 2006.

The self-survey conducted for the period from August 2006 to May 2007 showed that the most common diseases are of respiratory system (25.14%) followed by diseases of digestive tract (20.16%). Poor living condition and unhygienic food processing may have caused them.

Common illnesses
Since the days when the clinic initiated the pre-natal care, there are more than a hundred Prenatal cases being registered and 54 Babies have been delivered. This means health care for pregnant women is of prime importance. Unfortunately, the clinic can’t afford to provide the essential medicines such as Iron, Folic Acid and Calcium supplements.

The clinic has acquired equipments and manpower to perform (CS) Caesarean Section. But so far there is no room for operation and in-patient in the clinic.

Babies and Children
The self-survey conducted for the period from August 1006 to May 2007 showed that 14.99% of total patient are under 5 years and 13.48% are 5 to 14 years old children. So the percentage of children is 28.47%. Their common illness is of the respiratory system 29.16% followed by diarrhoea 13.08% and vitamin deficiency 10.17%. Unfortunately the clinic can’t afford to supply enough essential vitamins.

Yamuna Clinic was pleased to give children immunization when UNHCR/VHAD provided some vaccines in November 2006. Total 339 children received vaccinations. Since the mid-2007 all vaccines ran out and there is no more supply at all. When NHEC purchased medicine for 2008, the clinic could get only OPV and ATT vaccines. The concerned organizations urge Burmese refugees to seek vaccination at government centres. However the clinic notices some children not vaccinated. It will be beneficial if the clinic get BCG, DPT, Hepatitis B, Measles and MMR vaccines.

Tuberculosis becomes a major problem among Burmese refugees. The clinic notices adult and children have been diagnosed but not all of them receive full course of treatment. Some new-born babies do not receive BCG vaccine. There are cases of Multi-drug resistant TB patients among Burmese community. The low living standard and poor condition is a factor of TB prevalence.

Health Education
Thanks to NHEC and Don Bosco Ashalayam for conducting joint health awareness programs. (See the posting.) However the number of attendees is not as it should be. Burmese community lacks proper meeting venue and many of them don’t have time for their health as they have to work.

Psychological trouble
Addition is common among young adults. There is none when it comes to psychological care for Burmese refugees. Burmese psychologists who are living abroad have been approached but it is yet to materialize. Home-sick, not-bright future and poverty may have caused.

Awareness on HIV-AIDS is being done but it does not reach to satisfactory levels: frequency and attendance. It has been reported that 23 refugees are HIV positive. 3 to 4 refugees are seeking ART (Anti-retro viral Treatment) at DDU. But the doctor said language is problem for refugees for explanation and follow-ups.

Thanks to the National Health and Education Committee (NHEC), the only source of medical supplies to Yamuna Clinic. But as NHEC’s primary concern is the border areas and Yamuna Clinic in the Capital receives the minimum quota of health assistance. As the number of patient increases, the medicine purchased by NHEC is utterly insufficient. At the result not all patient can enjoy full dose and course of medicine. It is pity to see patients standing inside and outside clinic because Yamuna Clinic can afford only one and a half room set of house. So far no NGO is interested to grant a proposal to run the clinic

The absolute majority of patients belong to Chin ethnic nationality. So it is obligatory to have Chin speaking health workers. However there are different Chin languages and it is hard to have the assistants who can speak all languages. As of today, there is no clinic assistant who speaks either Mizo or Hakha or Falam languages. Those communities are requested to make available volunteers who are willing and disposed to serve at the clinic.

Yamuna Clinic has to recruit and train women refugees who have interest and can spare time for this particular social work. However because of third country resettlement program, many trained and experienced clinic assistants are leaving for good. It is a difficult task to recruit and train new ones again and again. So far no NGO is interested to grant the proposal to train clinic assistant or midwife.

All volunteers who have served and who continue serving at Yamuna Clinic deserve gratitude. Every one of them contributes free service for the community. They are just refugees like everybody. They have to come to the clinic with their own expenses e.g. rick-show or bus fair. They should be assisted.

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