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Myanmar Government Takes Preventive Measures against Spread of Zika Virus

The ministry has advised Myanmar couples to avoid pregnancy within six months from the date of the announcement

Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. Flickr

November 5, 2016: Myanmar’s health and sports ministry is warning women not to travel abroad where cases of the Zika virus have been reported, as the country battles its own recent outbreak of the disease.

The ministry issued the warning after the Southeast Asian country confirmed its first case of the virus infection on Oct. 27, when health professionals detected it in a pregnant foreign woman in the commercial capital Yangon.

The ministry has advised Myanmar couples to avoid pregnancy within six months from the date of the announcement.

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“The Zika virus was found only in a foreign pregnant woman but hasn’t spread among the population,” Dr. San Shwe Win, chairman of lower house of parliament’s Health and Sport Committee, told RFA’s Myanmar Service.

“To avoid pregnancy, we can only suggest that couples use contraceptives, but the major problem for Zika is mosquito control,” he said. “That’s why we must mainly work on suppressing mosquitoes. Our teams are monitoring at port entries, such as airports and border gates, checking people as to whether they have fever or not.”

The Zika virus has spread to upwards of 60 countries and territories since the current outbreak was identified as originating in Brazil in 2015.

The mosquito-borne virus, which is spread through bug bites or sexual contact, is an infectious disease that may cause fever, red eyes, joint pain, headache, and a rash. It can also cause the birth defect microcephaly that results in babies born with smaller-than-usual heads and brains.

Earlier this year, the virus made its way to Southeast Asia, hitting Singapore, Vietnam, and Thailand.

‘Mosquitoes are everywhere’

One Myanmar woman who is five months’ pregnant told RFA’s Myanmar Service that she fears her unborn baby could be affected because of the high number of mosquitoes in the country.

“It’s very difficult not to be bitten by mosquitoes in Myanmar because they are everywhere,” said Phyo Phyo Aung, the secretary of All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU), the umbrella organization for all student unions in the country.

Phyo Phyo Aung and her husband Lin Htet Naing, vice chairman of the ABFSU, were among the roughly 130 students and their supporters who were detained for participating in protests against a national education law that turned violent in the central Myanmar town of Letpadan in March 2015.

Both were sent to jail, but later released.

“I can only protect myself by applying mosquito repellent, wearing long-sleeved clothing, and not traveling to places where there are lots of mosquitoes,” she said.

Ma Htet, who got married in late October, said she has decided to take the advice of Myanmar’s health and sports ministry and wait six months before conceiving a child.

“Because most concerns about the Zika virus are about the unborn babies of pregnant women and infections during pregnancy that can result in birth defects, including microcephaly, I won’t get pregnant,” she said.

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“I don’t want to have a baby that has microcephaly,” she said. “I will wait six months as the health and sports ministry has suggested. Six months is not that long.”

But Nang Pu, director of Myanmar’s Htoi Gender and Development Foundation, said the government should do more to educate women about Zika and its possible effects on their unborn children.

“The government should have contingency plans to fight against the Zika virus, she told RFA. “It should have a budget for this kind of catastrophe or disaster as well. We don’t have these kinds of plans in our country.”

“As far as [telling] couples that they should not conceive within the next six months, the government should educate women, especially those between 18 and 35 years of age, about Zika and provide free condoms for birth control,” she said.

Public warnings

Earlier this year, health authorities in several countries in East and Southeast Asia issued public warnings about the Zika virus and urged people to take measures to reduce the chances of infection, as they prepare for the possible spread of the virus from other countries.

After two cases of Zika-related microcephaly in newborns was confirmed in Thailand in late September—the first linked to the virus in Southeast Asia, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)—the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that pregnant women not travel to Myanmar and 10 other Southeast Asian countries, and advised expecting women who live in the region to avoid mosquito bites.

The WHO also recommended that Myanmar and other Southeast Asian nations implement stronger measures against the virus, especially by controlling mosquitoes that thrive in the region’s tropical monsoon climate.

During the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Inter-Parliamentary Assembly in Naypyidaw on Sept. 30-Oct. 3, all 10 member states submitted a resolution to take preventative measures against Zika, said Dr. San Shwe Win, chairman of the lower house of parliament’s Health and Sports Committee.

“The methods of fighting Zika will all be the same,” he said, citing the monitoring of people entering the country at airports and land border crossings and educating people about what they can do to avoid getting the virus.

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As of mid-October, Thailand and Singapore had each confirmed more than 400 cases of locally transmitted Zika infections, including dozens of pregnant women who had contracted the virus.

The day after Myanmar had announced that a foreign woman had been diagnosed with Zika, Thet Khine Win, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Health and Sports, held a news conference in the capital Naypyidaw to dampen growing concerns about contracting Zika.

“I would like to request that people not worry too much,” he said. “The health and sports ministry is working to fight against the Zika virus, and we would like to appeal the public to cooperate with us. The ministry will release information regarding Zika virus in a timely manner with full transparency.” (BBG)

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Experts Say Measles Victims Dropped Below 100,000 in 2016

Measles Victims Dropped
Foriza Begum, background, a newly arrived Rohingya Muslim from Myanmar, reacts to her daughter Nosmin Fatima's scream as she receives a vaccination to prevent measles and rubella at a makeshift medical center in Teknaf, Bangladesh. VOA
  • Latest reports of WHO, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the rate of deaths from measles has dropped.
  • As per experts, a number of people who died from measles in 2016 were about 90,000, compared to 550,000 in 2000.

The World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the rate of deaths from measles has dropped 84 percent since the beginning of a global vaccination campaign in 2000.

Experts say the number of people who died from the disease in 2016 was about 90,000, compared to more than 550,000 deaths in 2000. This marks the first time that worldwide measles deaths have fallen to less than 100,000 per year.

Robert Linkins, of the Measles and Rubella Initiative at the CDC, said in a statement that “saving an average of 1.3 million lives per year through vaccine is an incredible achievement and makes a world free of measles seem possible, even probable, in our lifetime.”

Since 2000, some 5.5 billion doses of measles vaccine have been administered to children through routine immunization services and mass vaccination campaigns. The disease is contagious through air particles and can spread quickly. The disease kills more people every year than any other vaccine-preventable disease.

But the WHO says the world is still far from reaching regional measles elimination goals. Since 2009, officials have managed to deliver a first dose of the vaccine to 85 percent of the babies who need it, but there has been no improvement in that rate in eight years. And only 64 percent of the affected population has gotten the second dose, which comes when a child is four or five years old.

The WHO says “far too many children” — about 20.8 million — have not had their first vaccine dose. Most of those children live in Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The disease puts children at risk of developing complications such as pneumonia, diarrhea, encephalitis, and blindness.(VOA)

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Do You Know Which is the Unhealthiest Country in the World?

Are you living in the most unhealthy country in the world?

Unhealthiest country in the world
Did you think you were living in one of the world's healthiest country? Think again! VOA

Geneva, September 28, 2017 : Do you know which is the unhealthiest country in the world? If you think it is some region from the African continent, you are mistaken.

According to a new study by Clinic Compare, the Czech Republic has been recognized as the unhealthiest country in the world.

Drawing upon data gathered by the World Health Organization (WHO), CIA World Factbook and the World Lung Association, 179 countries around the world were assessed on three key factors,

  • Alcohol consumption
  • Tobacco consumption
  • Prevalence of obesity

The study thus revealed the most unhealthy country in the world – Czech Republic, and highlighted the need for citizens to change their lifestyle in order to combat life-threatening illnesses and maintain and enjoy a healthy life.

ALSO READ Live Healthy Lifestyle with these Diet Hacks

World’s most unhealthy countries


1. Czech Republic
2. Russia
3. Slovenia
4. Belarus
5. Slovakia
6. Hungary
7. Croatia
8. Poland
9. Luxembourg
10. Lithuania and the United States


As per the examination, the residents of Czech Republic positioned as the world’s greatest liquor consumers, with every individual expending 13.7 liters of liquor for each annum (around 1.5 shots per day). They additionally ranked eleventh on the list of the highest tobacco customers.

This comes as a surprise as poverty-stricken countries of Africa were instead found to be among the healthiest countries in the world.

According to the research, Eastern Europe emerged as the unhealthiest region in the world, occupying nine out of the best 10 top spots in the list.

41 per cent of the population in Samoa was further revealed to have a BMI over 30, making Oceania the world’s fattest region. Also included in the top 10 list of the fattest regions were Fiji, Tuvalu and Kiribati.

Healthiest Country in the World

The findings revealed that the healthiest country was Afghanistan with merely 2.7 per cent of the population having a BMI over 30. This places the country on the world’s second lowest rate of obesity.

It was further revealed that the citizens of Afghanistan consume the least recorded quantity of alcohol and smoke 83 cigarettes a year. This can be largely attributed to the nation’s laws that forbid the possession and consumption of alcohol.

The research placed Guinea as the second healthiest country, closely followed by Niger and Nepal.

ALSO READ WHO says Millions of People are Dying Pre-mature Deaths Due to Non-Communicable Diseases

World’s healthiest countries


1. Afghanistan

2. Guinea

3. Niger

4. Nepal

5. DR Congo

6. Eritrea

7. Malawi

8. Somalia

9. Mozambique

10. Ethiopia


Eight Countries from Africa made it to the list of the healthiest countries in the world, which comes as a pleasant surprise for all.

According to a WHO report released in mid-September, it was revealed that non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer and cardio-vascular diseases are an increasing cause of premature deaths all around the world, taking as many as 30 million lives annually.

These diseases cause self-inflicted damage and trace their roots to individual lifestyle choices such as smoking, alcohol consumption, drugs and unhealthy or unbalanced diet.

The new findings put greater pressure on the countries that have made it to the list of unhealthy countries, thereby urging them to undertake stronger measures.


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‘Don’t Sensationalize or Glamorize Suicide’ Asserts WHO ; Says Media Can Play a Significant Role in Preventing Suicides

WHO scientists assert that journalists can help overcome this taboo by encouraging people to seek help and to speak openly about their distress

A makeshift memorial for actor Robin Wlliiams is shown outside a home which was used in the filming of the movie "Mrs. Doubtfire", Aug. 15, 2014, in San Francisco. Authorities said Williams committed suicide. (VOA)

Geneva, September 11, 2017 : The World Health Organization reports about 800,000 people commit suicide every year. To mark this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10), WHO is stressing the important role the media can play in stopping people from taking their own lives.

Worldwide, every 40 seconds, someone takes their own life. The World Health Organization reports for every suicide, 20 others, mainly young people, attempt to take their own lives. WHO says suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29 year olds.

It finds most suicides, more than 78 percent, occur in low-and middle-income countries and risk factors include mental disorders, particularly depression and anxiety resulting from alcohol use.

WHO cites growing evidence that the media can play a significant role in preventing suicide by reporting responsibly on these tragedies.

Scientist in WHO’s department of mental health and substance abuse, Alexandra Fleischmann tells VOA people are often reluctant to talk about suicide because of the stigma attached. She says journalists can help to overcome this taboo by encouraging people to seek help and to speak openly about their distress.

“It is also important to stress that the encouragement to work with the media and not just to talk about the don’ts. Don’t put it in the headlines,” she said. “Don’t put the picture of the person who died. Don’t sensationalize it. Don’t glamorize it.”

WHO warns irresponsible reporting of this sort often can trigger copycat suicides or increase the risk.

The UN health agency reports the most common methods of suicide are self-poisoning with pesticide and firearms. It says many of these deaths could be prevented by restricting access to these means. (VOA)