At least 14 people have died from pulmonary tuberculosis in a remote and impoverished region in Myanmar’s north this year, according to officials Thursday.
The illness, characterized by a persistent cough, has hit two villages in Lahe Township of the mountainous Naga region, located around 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) from Myanmar’s largest city Yangon.
Maung Kal, a lawmaker representing the area, told Anadolu Agency on Thursday that 14 middle-aged people -- including six women -- have succumbed to the disease over the past two months.
“Those people had suffered persistent cough, and had symptoms of lung tuberculosis,” he said by phone, adding that the victims also showed signs of malnutrition.
He said a medical team consisting of a military doctor and health workers has been providing treatment to 20 other patients in the two villages with similar symptoms.
Than Tun Aung, public healthcare department deputy director, confirmed that the deaths were due to pulmonary tuberculosis.
“We have sent a medical team with mobile healthcare equipment to the area,” he told Anadolu Agency by phone.
The Naga Self-Administered Zone in the Sagaing region is among the least developed areas of Myanmar, lacking even the most basic healthcare, education and infrastructure.
A total of 42 villages in the mountainous area, populated by people from the Naga tribes on the border with India, were hit by a measles outbreak that killed at least 43 people -- mostly children -- in August 2016.
Athong Makury, head of the Council of Naga Affairs, told Anadolu Agency on Thursday that the children who died of measles last year had reportedly been vaccinated by health workers.
“However, the vaccines may have been neutralized upon arrival in these villages due to poor storage and handling,” he said by phone.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, more than 150,000 people suffer from tuberculosis in Myanmar, which is currently included in a list of 30 countries recognized as high-burden with the infectious respiratory disease.
A 2015 WHO report revealed that 369 out of every 100,000 Myanmar citizens contract tuberculosis, with it proving fatal for every 53 people of this figure.