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Worldwide Pharmaceutical Industry, Aid Organizations Warn of Second Disaster in Myanmar
Date:6/12/2008

Health experts weary of potential disease outbreak in cyclone-ravaged country

WASHINGTON, June 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In the wake of Cyclone Nargis, Myanmar is facing a second crisis from the threat of diseases resulting from standing water, destroyed sanitation infrastructure and the lack of comprehensive medical systems. Thousands of children and those who where injured, made homeless or are malnourished following the storm are in particular jeopardy if these fast-spreading diseases are not averted early.

"These diseases are preventable and treatable, but left unchecked they will further devastate a country hit hard by limited health care, poor sanitation and unsafe water," said Paul T. Antony, MD, MPH, medical director of the Global Health Progress, an initiative sponsored by the worldwide pharmaceutical industry. "Myanmar's vulnerable population, resources and facilities cannot withstand the impact of a widespread disease outbreak, but the situation becomes almost inevitable unless we act now to prevent it and limit the broader impact."

Steps to avert disease outbreaks can be accomplished by public and private entities that can alert and educate locally-based health workers about the signs for disease, and support preparation of additional stockpiles of emergency care materials, antibiotics and medicinal treatments. Sophisticated disease transmission modeling used by aid organizations in collaboration with international pharmaceutical companies may also be used to advise in-country personnel of potential outbreak areas.

"Unlike the cyclone, we can avert this crisis," said Direct Relief International President and CEO Thomas Tighe. "Major international aid and health organizations can, and are, taking action to raise awareness at the local, national and global levels and working to gather information about diseases already appearing on the ground."

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SOURCE Global Health Progress; Direct Relief International
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