Myanmar crisis of grave concern

Myanmar is experiencing a grave humanitarian crisis in the wake of cyclone Nargis.

Myanmar is experiencing a grave humanitarian crisis in the wake of cyclone Nargis.

About one million people displaced by the tropical storm don't have access to clean water and sanitation and face the threat of the outbreak of waterborne diseases.

Myanmar's government has barred foreign aid workers from entering the country. Even if prohibited from entering the country, foreign aid groups should still try their utmost to assist the Burmese people by dispatching supplies of food, clean water and medicine.

Myanmar's ruling junta has so far snubbed a request by the secretary-general of the United Nations for talks on disaster relief. By refusing hands-on assistance, Myanmar places greater Southeast Asia at risk from epidemic outbreaks.

This highly-populated region is especially vulnerable to new strains of viruses, as avian influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome and enterovirus 71 have shown.

The situation in Myanmar is of great concern to all countries in the region, especially Taiwan, who doesn't have the benefit of World Health Organisation membership. Disturbingly, there are no formal channels open between the WHO and Taiwan to exchange technical data and provide help in the case of emergencies.

Eric Chao, Rosebank

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