The disease burden on the Thai-Myanmar border

IN 2019, more than 1.3 million people in Southeast Asia were infected with dengue fever. The cyclical epidemic was exacerbated by poor state health infrastructure and constraints on access, as well as climate change and the increased movement of goods and people.

In this context, and despite declining foreign aid, non-government clinics along the Thai-Myanmar border have been at the forefront of regional efforts to contain dengue and chikungunya, another mosquito-borne virus that has spread northwards from Thailand’s deep south.

These diseases impose a particularly heavy burden on poor migrant households.

“This year, me, my children, everyone has had dengue fever or chikungunya, and sometimes both,” said Mr A. Salam, director of MAP Foundation, a grassroots non-government organisation that defends Myanmar workers’ rights and is based in the Thai border city of Mae Sot, opposite Myanmar’s Myawaddy.

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Laure Siegel