Meet Our Patients (30): Saw Say Htoo’s Story – Newborn baby

If Saw Way Htoo’s mom gave birth at the hospital in her village in Burma/Myanmar, the hospital would charge MMK 30,000 (USD 22.2). Including their monthly rent MMK 25,000 (USD 18.5), the cost is almost the half of their monthly salary. It took 2 days to arrive in the city, Myawaddy near Mae Tao Clinic but Saw Way Htoo’s mom is happy that her first healthy baby was delivered by skilled health workers at the MTC.


Saw Say Htoo is a 6-day-old son, the first child. His parents are from Bago,[1] Burma. There are state-owned education and health facilities: schools up to university, clinics and hospital. When villagers have health issues, first they visit the clinic and then the hospital. Nevertheless, as the medical service is not free of charge, out of pocket expenses are quite high and burdensome.[2]Say Say Htoo’s parents are tenant farmers and work as a day labor, earning around MMK (Myanmar Kyat) 5,000 (USD 3.7) per day.

During pregnancy, Saw Say Htoo’s mom attended the monthly antenatal check-up at the hospital in town. As the due date is close, Saw Way Htoo’s grandparents asked them to come over to Myawaddy,[3] giving birth to a baby at Mae Tao Clinic due to mainly two reasons: the service is free; they can take care of their daughter in law before/after the birth. If Saw Way Htoo’s mom gave birth at the hospital in town, the hospital would charge MMK 30,000 (USD 22.2). Including their monthly rent MMK 25,000 (USD 18.5), the cost is almost the half of their monthly salary. In addition, before and after the birth it is only Saw Say Htoo’s dad who can work. The whole cost to give birth is too burdensome. Although it took 2 days to arrive at Myawaddy, the parents agreed what they were suggested.

Saw Say Htoo’s parents came to the MTC when it was close to the due date. They stayed at the clinic for 3 days but there were no contractions. So, the MTC health staff returned them. A few days later, the mom started having regular contractions, so she and her husband came to MTC in the night. After being in labor 3 hours, Saw Say Htoo was born. There were no complications and the baby was 3.8 kg. However, after Saw Say Htoo received the immunizations, the baby became feverish, so he was admitted to Reproductive Health In-Patient Department for a few more days for the checkup. While Saw Say Htoo’s parents wait for the discharge, MTC health staff have provided health education in nutrition, hygiene, danger signs and safe feeding to the mom. The mom was also provided with the follow-up date for immunization.

“We plan to stay and work in Myawaddy for 1 year and will go back to the hometown. In the future, we want a second baby and when I give birth again, I would like to come back to Mae Tao Clinic. The health staff here are kind and they have taken good care of me. I want to thank MTC and donors who support MTC’s activities,” said Saw Say Htoo’s mom with a happy smile.

While our numbers of consultations and admissions were slightly down compared to previous years, 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. 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. 10,705 children under five were treated at Mae Tao Clinic in 2016. This is 20% of the total client load. 19,319 were women of reproductive age which is 35 % of the total client load (54,521).

[1] Bago is a city and the capital of the Bago Regionin Myanmar. It is located 91 kilometres (57 miles) north-east of Yangon (Capital of Burma/Myanmar). [Wikipedia:,_Myanmar]

[2] Although the Ministry of Health and Sport (MoHS) released the Myanmar National Health Plan 2017-2021 and made a goal to “extend access to a Basic Essential Package of Health Services to the entire population by 2020 while increasing financial protection,” Out of Pocket expense in Myanmar is beyond that of the global average (32%). In 2014, 81% of total health expenditure originated from out-of pocket financing. Despite the fact that the figure decreased to 65% in 2015, it still far exceeds the global average.

[3] Myawaddy is a town in south-eastern Burma/Myanmar, in Kayin (Karen) State, close to the border with Thailand. Separated from the Thai border town of Mae Sot by the Moei River, the town is the most important trading point between Myanmar and Thailand. [Wikipedia:]