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Burma (Myanmar) boots medics, citing no need

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Healthcare shortages

Aid agencies say that cyclone-affected areas are reporting cases of various diseases, as well as mental trauma from the tragedy.

But aside from the emotional trauma, all these conditions were long prevalent in the Irrawaddy Delta and elsewhere in Burma, a grindingly poor and insurgent-racked country that spends a minuscule proportion of its income on healthcare.

In Laputta, a delta township of roughly 350,000 people, the main hospital is said to have only one fully qualified doctor.

Last week, the UN warned of a shortage of trained midwives and clean facilities for tens of thousands of pregnant women in the delta. William Ryan, a spokesperson for the UN Population Fund, told reporters that health kits designed for safe deliveries were being sent via Burma's Ministry of Health to affected areas.

Burma's maternal mortality rate of 380 per 100,000 live births is four times higher than that of neighboring Thailand.

Dispersed survivors hard to reach

Aid workers say the closure of displacement camps in the delta, which international human rights groups have criticized as forced relocation, has added to the urgency of rebuilding local health networks. The dispersal of survivors to remote areas where water and food supplies are uncertain is stretching local medical personnel, whose numbers were already depleted by the tragedy.

But aid workers haven't received reports of any major disease outbreaks, such as cholera and measles, as many had originally warned.

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