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"Thailand's Burmese laborers facing

Subject: "Thailand's Burmese laborers facing severe health problems"

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Mainichi Daily News
May 20, 1996

Thailand's Burmese Laborers Facing Severe
Health Problems

Mae Sot, Thailand (AFPJiji) -- Burmese
workers crossing illegally into Thailand have
been a boon to local businessmen, but aid
workers here say many are bringing health
problems with them. 

Several hundred thousand illegal immigrants
from Burma are believed to be working in
Thailand -- a situation tolerated by Thais happy
to benefit from the cheap labor. 

However, aid workers are concerned that the
Burmese immigrants have a much higher
incidence of disease -- including malaria and
elphantiasis --  than Thais living in the same

The problem is exacerbated by the flow of
Burmese coming across the porous border
illegally, in addition to the 95,000 legal
Burmese residents of refugee camps strung
along the border. 

"It is impossible to know how many there are.
They just cross the border for a few days, go
on to Bangkok or set up a place here and go
back and forth," said Cynthia Maung, a doctor

Maung, who runs a free clinic for the Burmese
living outside the camps, said there were "not
less than 100,000 in Mae Sot district alone." 

She said her clinic last year provided almost
8,000 patients with medical care. Of patients
treated for fever at the clinic, 38 percent had
malaria, while 9.7 percent of 381 pregnant
women had hepatitis B, and 1.6 percent were
infected with Human Immune - deficiency
Virus (HIV). 

Maung said that provincial health officials,
concerned about outbreaks of malaria and
filariasis in areas with large concentrations of
Burmese, have begun to take surveys in the

"Of the five communicable diseases they
tested for -- malaria, tuberculosis, HIV,
diarrhea and filariasis -- only the percentage of
HIV cases was higher among Thai people"
than among the Burmese workers, she said.