Chinese medics battle to contain measles outbreak in Kachin refugee camp

A Kachin relief group reports that Chinese doctors and a team of medics are battling to contain an outbreak of measles among children in a Kachin refugee camp on the China side of the border with Burma.

Health workers say the measles outbreak has spread quickly among children under the age of 10 living in the La Ying, Kachin refugee camp located in China’s Yunnan Province. The camp is opposite the Burma border town of Lwaigyai in Kachin State and is home to more than 2,000 refugees.

Doi Zin, a health worker with Wun Pawng Ninghtoi (WPN), an umbrella group of eight Kachin aid agencies that is working with displaced civilians on both sides of the border spoke to Karen News about the measles outbreak.

“Within three days, more than 10 patients came to the clinic with measles. They were all children under the age of 10. The disease is spreading very fast. China is worried the disease will spread to local populations, so doctors from China are now coming in to the camp and providing treatment.”

Doi Zin estimates that the camp clinic is only seeing a third of all infected children and says it is likely parents will first try to treat the measles with traditional methods – it will only be when the disease gets worse, that parents will bring the children to the clinic for treatment.

A mother of a child with measles who came to the clinic confirmed that treating the measles with traditional medicine is their first choice.

“We first try treating the disease with traditional treatments, but if it doesn’t work out, we come to the clinic. We believe that we have to prevent the infected person with measles from taking bath for a week and it will recover.”

Doctors and the health workers from China are now asking the refugees to clean up the camp surrounds and to spray chlorine and for every child with measles to receive a 10 day treatment that they will provide.

WPN health workers say the cause of the measles outbreak could be caused by La Ying camp closeness to the local Chinese community rubbish dump and that many people in the camp have to share drinking water.

Local sources claim that this is the first time that health care services have been provided by China to Kachin refugees in La Ying camp.

The Burma Army has been fighting against the Kachin Independent Army since June 2010. In that period as many as 70,000 people have been forced from their villages by the Burma Army and thousands of people have taken refugee across the border in China.

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