Burma Vision: Challenges and Research








Free Burma Rangers







Burma and the challenge of humanitarian assistance Beyrer, C. Burma and the challenge of humanitarian assistance. Lancet (2007) 370(9597):1465-7.
OBJECTIVES: To estimate mortality rates for populations living in civil war zones in Karen, Karenni, and Mon states of eastern Burma.
METHODS: Indigenous mobile health workers providing care in conflict zones in Karen, Karenni, and Mon areas of eastern Burma conducted cluster sample surveys interviewing heads of households during 3-month time periods in 2002 and 2003 to collect demographic and mortality data.
RESULTS: In 2002 health workers completed 1290 household surveys comprising 7496 individuals. In 2003, 1609 households with 9083 members were surveyed. Estimates of vital statistics were as follows: infant mortality rate: 135 (95% CI: 96-181) and 122 (95% CI: 70-175) per 1000 live births; under-five mortality rate: 291 (95% CI: 238-348) and 276 (95% CI: 190-361) per 1000 live births; crude mortality rate: 25 (95% CI: 21-29) and 21 (95% CI: 15-27) per 1000 persons per year.
CONCLUSIONS: Populations living in conflict zones in eastern Burma experience high mortality rates. The use of indigenous mobile health workers provides one means of measuring health status among populations that would normally be inaccessible due to ongoing conflict. Lee, T. J., Mullany, L. C., Richards, A. K., et al. Mortality rates in conflict zones in Karen, Karenni, and Mon states in eastern Burma. Trop Med Int Health (2006) 11(7):1119-27.

BACKGROUND: Clinical trials evaluating interventions for infectious diseases require enrolling participants that are vulnerable to infection. As clinical trials are conducted in increasingly vulnerable populations, issues of protection of these populations become challenging. In settings where populations are forseeably oppressed, the conduct of research requires considerations that go beyond common ethical concerns and into issues of international human rights law.
DISCUSSION: Using examples of HIV prevention trials in Thailand, hepatitis-E prevention trials in Nepal and malaria therapeutic trials in Burma (Myanmar), we address the inadequacies of current ethical guidelines when conducting research within oppressed populations. We review existing legislature in the United States and United Kingdom that may be used against foreign investigators if trial hardships exist. We conclude by making considerations for research conducted within oppressed populations. Mills, E. J., and Singh, S. Health, human rights, and the conduct of clinical research within oppressed populations. Global Health (2007) 3:10
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