UK medics to help Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

Published: Dec 30, 2017, 06:07 IST | IANS

A team of British medical staff is travelling to Bangladesh to help tackle an outbreak of diphtheria affecting Rohingya Muslim refugee camps

A team of British medical staff is travelling to Bangladesh to help tackle an outbreak of diphtheria affecting Rohingya Muslim refugee camps, the media reported on Thursday. More than 40 doctors, nurses and firefighters will arrive at the fishing port Cox's Bazar following a request from the World Health Organisation (WHO), reports the BBC.

Cox's Bazar is home to more than 600,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled violence in bordering Myanmar. The British government said the deployment was "another proud moment for the NHS (National Health Service)". This is the first deployment of Britain's emergency medical team (EMT) since it was certified by the WHO in 2016. The staff will be at the camps for six weeks working to fight the spread of diphtheria, as up to 160 new cases of the disease were being reported every day.

The highly contagious disease has already killed at least 27 people, according to health officials. As of December 21, the charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said it had seen more than 2,000 suspected cases in its health facilities. The majority of patients were between five and 14 years old, the BBC reported. An estimated 620,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh following persecution from the Burmese military in their native state of Rakhine, since August. The UN described the military offensive in Rakhine, which provoked the exodus, as a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing".

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