HIV/AIDS hospital brings in fees for patients

Jan 23, 2008 (DVB), A hospital in Rangoon that was providing free services to people living with HIV and AIDS has introduced charges for patients due to lack of funds.

The Weibargi Infectious Diseases Hospital in North Okkalapa township used to carry out blood tests, scans and X-rays free of charge to HIV/AIDS patients, who travel to the hospital from all over Burma for treatment.

Ko Tin Ko, an HIV/AIDS activist who is himself living with HIV, went to the hospital yesterday as usual and saw a notice saying that the hospital was no longer receiving enough funding to support its activities and so would be charging for laboratory fees, X-rays, scans and other services as of 21 January.

"Now there's a fee of between 3000 and 4000 kyat for blood tests, plus a 500 kyat donation, a normal X-ray is 200 kyat per session and an ultrasound is 1000 kyat," Ko Tin Ko said.

The announcement did not specify who had withdrawn the funding from the hospital.

The new charges meant that some patients who had come to the hospital without sufficient money could not receive treatment, Ko Tin Ko said.

"A lot of patients had only brought enough money for their travel costs, and so they were denied services," he said.

Ko Tin Ko said he intended to start a campaign against the new charges, which will mean that many HIV/AIDS patients cannot afford treatment.

The Weibargi hospital was unavailable for comment.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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