Her son was unconscious when she got there. She was told that the hospital was not able to help her son because they didn’t have the right medication. She was referred to Mae Tao clinic, just across the border and desperate she came seeking help. At the time of the interview, a few days later, the son was doing much better.
Pyae Phyo Hein is an 18-year old male patient who was admitted unconscious with a diagnosis of cerebral malaria. An only child, he was accompanied by his mother, a 40-year old single Mom (divorced). They are from Yangon, of Burmese ethnic background. She owns a food shop and cooks food for a living.
Pyae Phyo Hein completed only nine (9) grades after which he left school to help out his mother. He came to the Thailand-Burma border region (on the Burmese side) and was working in the iron (metal) industry. His mother got a call from a friend of her son who explained that her son was in very bad shape and was taken to the hospital. She was told that one day her son felt bad and skipped work. That afternoon his colleagues came home to find him in a very bad state, bloated, disfigured, with a high fever and took him to Myawaddy hospital where the mother found him a few days later. She pieced together that the young men who worked together were not sleeping under mosquito nets and that the illness he was afflicted with was malaria. He was unconscious when she got there. She was told that they were not able to help him because they didn’t have the right medication. She was referred to Mae Tao clinic, just across the border and desperate she came seeking help. At the time of the interview, a few days later, the son was doing much better, recovering nicely as he had been administered the right medication and was getting the appropriate care. The mother sleeps on a mat next to her son’s bed watching him constantly.
This is not a typical Mae Sot patient story; the patient happens to have been in the vicinity, having come to the region for work from the capital, with some of the best amenities, institutions and infrastructure in the country. In addition, the personal characteristics, ethnic background, religion or conflict in the area did not play a role. However, the poor condition of the government hospital in the small city of Myawaddy, was inadequate and unable to treat her son; luckily, Mae Tao Clinic, just across the border was able to provide the necessary care.
The patient seems to be recovering well, but it is hard to tell how long he will remain in the hospital or what the long term consequences of his illness will be.
The mother is incredibly happy with Mae Tao Clinic. She praises the staff, their attention to the patient and competence. She is grateful everyone is doing their best.
We have seen a marked decrease in the number of malaria infected patients due to multiple factors such as the Malaria Elimina on Task force programme and an increased number of malaria posts along the border. In 2016, 21,047 malaria tests were done and a total of 37 patients and new trainees were diagnosed with Plasmodium vivax malaria. Rapid tests for malaria were introduced in May 2016 with the help of the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) laboratory. Due to the decreased number of infected patients, it will be very important to maintain a high level of laboratory skills for carrying out rapid tests and blood smears.
While our numbers of consultations and admissions were slightly down compared to the previous year, the bed occupancy rate increased as did the length of stay of our patients. There are more basic primary health care facilities opening up in Eastern Burma and MTC is part of the Health Systems Strengthening project to support these clinics. Nevertheless, our data shows us that we are seeing more complicated cases coming to our clinic as these patients are not able to be treated in Burma.
(This interview was conducted on April 6, 2017)
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