Third Anniversary of the Myanmar Coup: Over 1,000 Attacks on Health Care

January 31st, 2024  •  Author:   Insecurity Insight  •  3 minute read
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Since the armed forces seized control of Myanmar on 1 February 2021 following a general election that the National League for Democracy party won by a landslide, Insecurity Insight has identified 1,127 incidents of violence against or obstruction of health care in the country. In the early months following the coup, attacks on health care were characterised by health workers being arrested on allegations of Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) affiliation or because of the care they provided to injured CDM members. Since then, at least 897 health workers have been arrested in 302 incidents. Health workers were often beaten while they were detained, and mass arrests were reported. Some detained health workers were given prison sentences ranging from three to 25 years, while others were tortured, with at least five dying as a result. Health facilities were frequently raided by the military searching for pro-democracy health workers or injured protesters, and patients were routinely searched and risked being arrested or forcibly discharged.

“The biggest challenge for me is when … the patient should be taking medicine but I have no medicine to prescribe. That really hits me and upsets me.” Volunteer nurse in Kayah state.

Starting in late 2022, armed violence has escalated, with the Myanmar military increasingly using aircraft-delivered explosive weapons against communities that strongly resisted the military’s rule. At least 49 incidents were recorded in which Myanmar military aircraft dropped explosive weapons that damaged clinics, hospitals, pharmacies, and rural health centres, and killed or injured health workers. Most of these incidents occurred in Kayah state. Since April 2023 opposition groups have increasingly been using drones armed with explosive weapons to carry out attacks on Myanmar military forces occupying hospitals and health centres. In at least 25 incidents drone-delivered explosive weapons damaged health facilities taken over by the Myanmar military. Most of these incidents occurred in Sagaing.
Air-dropped explosive weapons usually have a wide-area effect and cause death and destruction beyond the intended target, thus having reverberating adverse effects on the health sector. In addition, the use of air-dropped explosive weapons has had devastating mental health impacts on health workers with increasing evidence that high levels of stress resulting from their use has caused many health workers to flee or stop providing health care. Over time, such violence has a devastating impact on the quality of care provided by a health care system.

This data is available on HDX. See where incidents happened on this interactive map.

Media contact: For more information, interviews or curated datasets, please contact Tim Bishop – [email protected]

As an H2H (humanitarian to humanitarian) association, Insecurity Insight supports the work of aid agencies, providers of healthcare, education, and protection services, and other civil society organisations by providing publicly available information for evidence-based policies. We collect and analyse data about violence against civilians and damage and destruction of vital civilian infrastructure in order to strengthen civilian protection and the delivery of aid in armed conflict.

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