YANGON — A baby has been killed and two children left hospitalised on Monday after their parents attempted a mass suicide on learning they had developed drug-resistant tuberculosis.
The parents, from a small village in Taungtha Township, forced their children to drink pesticide and attacked them with knives before trying in vain to take their own lives on Saturday.
The one-year-old baby girl died on the spot and the two boys, aged seven and nine, are now in hospital being treated for their injuries along with their parents.
Local lawmaker U Sein Win said the impoverished couple had long had tuberculosis and became depressed after learning their infection was now resistant to treatment.
“As their disease is contagious, nobody wanted to work with them,” he told AFP.
“They thought they were going to die because there was no treatment. They became crazed and tried to commit suicide with the whole family.”
Head of administration for Taungtha, U Wai Lin Tun, said the police were investigating the incident, but declined to give further details.
Myanmar has one of the highest rates of tuberculosis in the world, with more than 140,000 cases on record, according to the World Health Organisation.
An estimated 9,000 people are infected each year with a drug-resistant form of the disease.
The government has launched a programme to reduce deaths from tuberculosis by 95 percent and cut new cases by 90 percent by 2035.
But many of the rural poor struggle to keep up with the taxing treatment regimen, allowing the disease to develop resistance to treatment.
Tuberculosis, which is caused by a bacteria that infects the lungs and can be spread through the air, is one of the most deadly diseases in the world.
An estimated 1.8 million people died from tuberculosis in 2015, data from last year’s WHO Global TB Report showed, making it among the top 10 causes of death worldwide.