By SAW YAN NAING
Burma’s health minister failed to attend a regional meeting to discuss measures to prevent an outbreak of swine flu and other health issues on Thursday, according to a report by the Bangkok Post.
Burma is the only member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) that has not confirmed the participation of its health minister at the two-day meeting in Bangkok, the paper reported.
No reason was given for the Burmese minister’s absence from the meeting, which brings together Asean and its regional partners, China, Japan and South Korea.
Burmese ambassador to Thailand Aung Thein instead accepted an invitation to attend the meeting, Siriporn Kanchana, Thailand’s deputy permanent secretary for public health, told the Bangkok Post.
Siriporn said that strict measures at the borders of Mekong countries were necessary to prevent swine flu from spreading.
“An enhancement of surveillance for the new strain of influenza is urgently needed to strengthen disease control measures among [Asean] member countries,” she was quoted as saying.
On Thursday, Burmese state-run newspaper The New Light of Myanmar reported that Burma’s Ministry of Health has been taking preventive measures against the spread of the swine flu virus A/H1N1 since April 25.
The paper reported that the Ministry of Health was keeping a constant watch on the virus and was prepared to provide medicine and medical equipment to hospitals in the event the disease reaches Burma. Special care units and hospital wards were also being prepared for emergency use, according to the paper.
The paper reported that visitors to Burma have been subject to screening at airports, seaports and borders since April 19. So far, there has been no case of swine flu in Burma, according to the Ministry of Health.