Search

 

Cablegate: Burma: The Eyes Have It

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS RANGOON 001556

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE PASS AID/ANE
STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV
BANGKOK FOR AID
USPACOM FOR FPA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID SOCI ECON BM ASSK NGO
SUBJECT: BURMA: THE EYES HAVE IT

1. (SBU) Summary: A favorite of ASSK's, U.S.-based NGO ORBIS,
arrived in Mandalay on December 5th. The flying eye hospital
and 11 foreign doctors will spend two weeks providing free
operations for patients and education and hands-on training
for nearly 100 Burmese medical staff. Despite clear benefits
to the local community from the NGO's humanitarian mission,
sustainable progress remains difficult while the GOB refuses
to adequately support healthcare. End summary.

Mandalay Welcomes Flying Eye Hospital

2. (SBU) On December 5th, the U.S.-based NGO ORBIS flew its
eye hospital into Mandalay aboard a DC-10. This flying
hospital has come to Burma once before, in 2000, and ORBIS
conducted six other hospital-based ophthalmologic programs in
Rangoon hospitals prior to that. The objectives of this
latest two-week program are to conduct free eye surgeries for
dozens of patients as well as to provide education and
hands-on training to Burmese ophthalmologists and surgical
nurses as well as equipment and training for medical
technicians at the Mandalay Eye, Ear, Nose, and Throat
Hospital. Over the two weeks, 11 physicians and nurses from
the United States, Europe, and Taiwan will participate in the
program -- sponsored by the Taiwanese national aid agency,
the International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF).
According to an official from ICDF, this program is a trial
balloon to assess if further humanitarian aid from Taiwan is
feasible.

3. (U) We visited ORBIS' operation in Mandalay during its
weekly screening day as well as one day of onboard surgery.
During the screening day, about 100 patients, referred as
untreatable by local eye doctors come to meet the ORBIS
consultants. The consultants see all of the patients, confer
with local physicians, and refer a small percentage for
surgery. According to ORBIS, the majority of patients suffer
from vision loss due to cataracts with a smaller number due
to glaucoma and posterior segment diseases.

Capacity, Resources a Problem

4. (SBU) ORBIS staff noted that a lack of modern medical
education, an oppressive hierarchical system in the medical
profession (wherein only the senior staff get advanced
training and time on hi-tech equipment), and poor supply and
maintenance of equipment were the main barriers to adequate
care in Burma's eye hospitals. In addition irregular
electricity make it difficult to operate and maintain
sophisticated equipment that has become the norm in developed
country eye clinics.

5. (SBU) Though ORBIS doctors did not make this point, it's
clear most of these problems boil down to resources. The GOB
continues to deny the Ministry of Health (which operates
public hospitals) an adequate budget. In the latest budget
figures, the GOB is allocating only about 0.50 cents per
capita for healthcare.

Comment: ASSK is an ORBIS Fan

6. (SBU) The ORBIS visit has been a priority for more than
two years, when NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK) asked for
USG assistance encouraging ORBIS to come back to Burma.
Though the Ministry of Health never opposed the idea, the
wheels of bureaucracy turned incredibly slowly in this case.
ASSK had also asked for our help in contacting Operation
Smile (which does free palate surgeries) and urging that NGO
to come to Burma. While there are short-term benefits to the
local community from the ORBIS missions, sustainable progress
remains unlikely so long as there is poor budgetary and
political support for healthcare. End comment.
MARTINEZ

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Syria: Economic Decline, Rising Hunger And Surging Humanitarian Needs

Syria’s fragile economy has “suffered multiple shocks” over the past 18 months, with its currency plummeting and joblessness swelling as people struggle to cover their basic needs, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator told the Security Council ... More>>

OECD: Final Quarter Of 2020 Shows Continued Recovery In G20 International Merchandise Trade

G20 international merchandise trade continued to rebound in the fourth quarter of 2020 ( exports up 7.2% and imports up 6.8%), following the sharp falls seen in the first half of 2020, as lockdown measures affected trade globally. Although growth ... More>>

UN Report: Civilian Casualties Surged After Peace Talks Began In Afghanistan

Monitoring by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA, and the UN Human Rights Office has revealed that despite a drop in civilians killed and injured overall in 2020 there was a rise in civilian casualties following the start of peace negotiations ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs


2021: Critical Year To ‘reset Our Relationship With Nature’ – UN Chief

During this time of “crisis and fragility”, the UN chief told the United Nations Environment Assembly on Monday that human well-being and prosperity can be vastly improved by prioritizing nature-based solutions. Painting a picture of the turmoil ... More>>


Paris Agreement: UN Secretary-General António Guterres To Mark U.S. Reentry With Envoy For Climate John Kerry

Watch live at webtv.un.org UN Secretary-General António Guterres will join U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John F. Kerry at an event marking the United States’ reentry into the Paris Agreement this Friday. The discussion with the Secretary-General ... More>>

WeBeliev: Scoop In Conversation With Abhishek Sinha, Founder Of WeBeliev, An NZ Crowdfunding Platform

WeBeliev supports 17 SDGs, launching sector specific campaigns every month Q. What is WeBeliev and why did you start it? A. WeBeliev is a Singapore-registered crowdfunding platform aimed at fundraising for all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) ... More>>