By WAI MOE
Burma’s Ministry of Health has issued a public warning that two brands of traditional medicine contain dangerous levels of arsenic.
The warning, carried by Myanma Alin and other state media on Tuesday, identified the two brands as Daw Tway and the children’s medicine Daw Kyin. The official announcement said the medicines were “unfit for human use” because they contained arsenic.
Traditional medicine shops in Rangoon contacted by The Irrawaddy said they had already withdrawn the two brands from their shelves. Business people in the Thai-Burmese border town of Mae Sot, however, said the tainted medicines were still being sold there.
“The demand for traditional medicine is still high among Burmese migrant workers,” said a grocery shop owner in Mae Sot.
In March, local newspapers in the US town of Fort Wayne reported that 32 Burmese refugee children who had been resettled there from the Mae Sot area had excessive levels of lead in their blood.
“At first, it was thought that these lead levels were brought about during their stay on the Thai-Burma border,” Burmese doctor Khin Mar Oo told Salem-News.com, a US online news site. She said arsenic had been found not only in refugee children from Thailand but also in some US-born Burmese children.
Traditional medicine is popular in Burma because it’s cheap compared to the cost of recognized prescription drugs.
In March, the Burmese Ministry of Health announced that more than 100 brands of a popular Burmese pickled tea contained a dangerous chemical dye, Auramine 0.
Singapore and Malaysia authorities then banned sales of imported Burmese pickled tea leaves.