Aye Soe is originally from Myanmar and is currently working in the UK.
Myanmar (once known as Burma) in South East Asia (SEA) has been tackling Covid 19 Pandemic in every way possible from the start and has planned to vaccinate its population as early as possible.
Due to the efforts of a dedicated National Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) team in Myanmar, Covid vaccination for healthcare workers was started in January 2021. Then it was the turn of the general population in February. However, this all came to a halt when the military coup happened on 1st February 2021 after the junta cited unproven claims of election fraud.
Doctors, Nurses, health care workers and admin staff in Myanmar started the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) to show support for the democratically elected government, as well as to reject oppression from an unelected military regime. The CDM has gained momentum across the country, with other sectors joining in in the movement.
The military regime has targeted medical professionals by means of intimidation, arbitrary arrests, false accusation and defamation.
Hence, the military regime has targeted medical professionals by means of intimidation, arbitrary arrests, false accusation and defamation.
Doctors who are actively involved in the CDM or leading the movement are now in hiding for their safety. Some prominent doctors have active arrest warrants for them, and some face accusations and defamation.
One example of defamation is that of EPI director Dr Htar Htar Lin on social media. She is a well-known figure in her field in Myanmar as well as in SEA. The following letter which she addressed to her counterparts explained details of the difficulties and unreasonable demands she faced as a doctor. Dr Htar Htar Lin’s letter:
It is heart breaking to learn that her position as a director of EPI program is being manipulated, her safety is compromised and her freedom is at risk. We, as medical professionals, admire her courage and bravery in standing up to corruption.
We write this letter in support of all Myanmar Doctors who are standing up to injustice and defending democracy. We would like to raise awareness among international communities of how the political situation and illegal grappling of power threatens the lives of people in Myanmar.
It is also our hope that other medical professionals around the world will support Myanmar healthcare professionals in their quest for justice, and support universal healthcare provision in Myanmar in any way they can.
DOI: Dr Soe is a classmate and a friend of Dr Htar Htar Lin. She received no funding / sponsorship for this article. This is her independent expressed opinion.
see also THE DREAM OF UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE IN MYANMAR BECOMES A NIGHTMARE in BJGP Life