A new strain of malaria has broken out in several villages in a remote area of Ponna Kyunt Township, 16 miles north of Arakan State Capital Akyab, said a pharmacy owner in Ponna Kyunt.
“As far as I know, at least two people have died recently from malaria. The number of dead may be higher than I think,” said the pharmacy owner.
Many villages from Taw Phar Chaung area under Ponna Kyunt Township are now afflicted by malaria.
“The area where there is an outbreak of malaria is on the upper Taw Phar Chaung River, and is located between Rathidaung and Ponna Kyunt Township,” a villager from the area said.
Among the affected villages, Ao Rama, Sin Thay, Thet Thun Bon Chaung, and Thet Yet Chaung are suffering the most from the outbreak.
“There aren’t any government clinics, nor any nurses or doctors in the area. When people become afflicted by the disease, they have to be sent to Ponna Kyunt Township hospital. It is very far from here,” the villager added.
As the hospital is located far from the area, many malaria patients have died on their way to receive treatment.
On top of this, the price of medicines and materials related to treating malaria are also very high, and local people cannot afford to buy them.
“An instrument for checking malaria is Kyat 600 in the area, but it was delivered free when an NGO was operating in the area in recent years,” reported the villager.
According to local pharmacy sources, a Quinine tablet, or Colloquies, is about Kyat 250, while anti-malarial injections cost between Kyat 700 and 2,000.
“Our people are very poor and they are unable to buy the medicines from pharmacies. Due to this, many of our people often die,” the villager continued.
Regarding the outbreak of malaria in the area, some village headmen informed the Ponna Kyunt Township Peace and Development Council, but there has been no response or implementation of disease control measures by the authorities.
A village council member from Poe Ree Byint village said, “The authorities told us they want to send some doctors to the malaria affected area, but there are no more doctors or nurses in Ponna Kyunt Township, nor are there any medicines for treatment of malaria patients at the hospital.”
It was learnt that the malaria outbreak has to do with a new strain that has not been seen in the area before, compounding the suffering of those with the disease who are unable to obtain proper medical treatment or medicines.