Meet Our Patients (31): Pai Pai’s Story – Eye infection

10 year old boy, Pai Pai hit his head on the ground when playing outside. During the night, his eyes swelled up and reddened, and pain in his eyes, fever, and nausea have exacerbated more and more. Although his mom brought him to a clinic in Myawaddy for 4 times, Pai Pai’s condition didn’t show any improvement. The doctor suggested that she should go to the Thai side to see a doctor…


Pai Pai is a 10-year-old boy from Myawaddy,[1] Burma/Myanmar. His parents have been living there for over 20 years. He is in 4th grade and has 2 siblings. His dad cannot work due to his health condition. His mom is the only one works for making a living – she makes around MMK 260,000 (USD 192) a month.[2] For the rent and bills, they spend around MMK 50,000 (USD 37) per month.

A few days ago, when Pai Pai was playing outside with his friends, he accidentally fell down and hit his head on the ground. Since then he started feeling that his eyes were itching and burning. So he kept rubbing his eyes with hands. During the night, his eyes swelled up and reddened. Pain in his eyes, fever, and nausea have exacerbated gradually. His mom tried to treat him at home with some medication for 3 days. Nevertheless, his condition got worse. Although his mom brought him to a clinic in Myawaddy back and forth for 4 times, Pai Pai’s condition didn’t show any improvement. The doctor was not the ophthalmologist and he suggested that she should go to the Thai side to see a doctor.

It was the first time for the family to visit Mae Tao Clinic. All of the babies, including Pai Pai, were delivered by Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA)[3] at home. Upon Pai Pai’s first visit, volunteer the ophthalmologist at Mae Tao Clinic examined and prescribed him and scheduled for a follow-up visit. Although Pai Pai took the medication, he couldn’t sleep but kept moaning with pain. His mom had to take him to the clinic again 2 days later but the doctor was not available, so the eye department staff told them to come back again. On their last visit, the doctor admitted Pai Pai to Child In-Patient Department (CIPD) as he suspected infections.

CIPD staff suspected either the infection or the brain damage so referred Pai Pai to our partner organization, Burma Children Medical Fund (BCMF)[4] to get X-rays at Mae Sot General Hospital. Fortunately, there was no damage to his eyes or brain. The doctor at MSGH said it is the infection. Pai Pai has been receiving treatment at MTC for 10 days. As a result, his fever and pain in eyes are visibly alleviated. Now Pai Pai sleeps sound and peacefully.

“If we did not come to the Mae Tao Clinic, it would have cost a lot for medication, food, accommodation etc. for the treatment. We really thank MTC what they provide for the poor like me,” said Pai Pai’s mom during the interview.

While our numbers of consultations and admissions were slightly down 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.

[1] Myawaddy is a town in southeastern Myanmar, in Kayin (Karen) State, close to the border with Thailand. Separated from the Thai border town of Mae Sot by the Moei River (Thaung Yinn River). [Wikipedia:]

[2] Myanmar currency Kyat

[3] Traditional birth attendant: A traditional birth attendant (TBA), also known as a traditional midwife, community midwife or lay midwife, is a pregnancy and childbirth care provider. Traditional birth attendants provide the majority of primary maternity care in many developing countries, and may function within specific communities in developed countries. ( Mae Tao Clinic has been providing two levels of training: a 6-month Community Health Worker (CHW) Training, and a 2-year Health Assistant (HA) Training to health workers from numerous health organizations both in Thailand and eastern Burma. In the curriculum of the training, Laboratory Training and Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) training is included.

[4] The Burma Children Medical Fund (BCMF) was founded in 2006. Before BCMF was established, people who needed surgery could only have their symptoms treated. Without the necessary surgery their lives were either severely incapacitated or they died prematurely. BCMF works to give these patients a chance to a healthy life by funding their medical treatment and providing a range of support services before, during, and after treatment. [BCMF website:]