Meet Our Patients (37): Tha Moe Paing’s Story – Chronic Asthma

Tha Moe Paing (4-year-old) has suffered from chronic asthma. For over 3 years, she has to be admitted to Child Inpatient Department almost 1 – 2 weeks every month for treatment. Her parents were desperate and hopeless because their daughter was sick and one of them could not work to look after their daughter although they need money badly. When Tha Moe Paing became 4-year-old, her symptoms of asthma got mitigated…


Tha Moe Paing is a 4-year-old girl. She has one younger sister. Her parents moved to Bangkok, Thailand 6 years ago from Bago division,[1] Burma in search of work. Her parents earned around THB 300 (USD 9.5) per day while working in Bangkok. They moved to Mae Sot[2] when Tha Moe Paing’s mom was pregnant with her first child. Since the first child was born, their living conditions become worse as Tha Moe Paing has been sick so the parents missed the work many times.

There are around 30 to 40 households, who are migrant workers in their neighbour. Most of them receive health care service from Mae Tao Clinic. Tha Moe Paing’s mom had received regular antenatal care at the clinic. During the delivery, her mom bled excessively and became unconscious. Reproductive Health team immediately referred her to Mae Sot General Hospital[3] for a C-section. Since Tha Moe Paing was born, her health condition hasn’t been good. When she was 8-month old, she hardly breathed and was feeble. Worried parents brought her to the clinic and Child Inpatient Department (CIPD) staff admitted her to the CIPD for a further checkup for 2 weeks. She is diagnosed with chronic asthma.

Tha Moe Paing has come to the clinic, admitted to the CIPD and discharged over and over for almost 3 years. Her parents were desperate and hopeless because of their daughter was sick and one of them could not work because of their daughter’s health condition: one should have looked after her always.

When Tha Moe Paing became 4-year-old, her symptoms of asthma got mitigated, and a number of visits to the clinic have evidently decreased. The last couple of months, she did not need to come to the clinic as her health condition shows considerable improvement.

“In the future, we will go back to Burma because we don’t have either work permit or residence permit here. This year we will send her to a nursery school at Children’s Development Centre (CDC).[4]  We are very happy to see that our child’s condition gets better. We genuinely appreciate that all staff at Mae Tao Clinic have been taking good care of my daughter. I cannot even imagine how we could afford the medical bills without the clinic as we are undocumented here, we cannot receive any affordable health care services in Thailand,” said a father of Tha Moe Paing during the interview.

Mae Tao Clinic sees an increase in patient caseload with non-communicable diseases (NCD), with the top-5 of most common diagnoses making up for 80% of the cases diagnosed. 

Most common non-communicable diseases (2017)

Diagnosis # of Patient % of total NCD
Diabetes 299 29.6%
Hypertension 226 22.4%
Thyroid 102 10.1%
Asthma 96 9.5%
Epilepsy 86 8.8%
Other 202 20%
Total 1,011 100%

Mae Tao Clinic has referred 64 patients with chronic non-communicable diseases patients to different government facilities in Burma for continuation of life-long regular treatment. Patients can decide where to go and Mae Tao Clinic facilitates the referral. However, some patients cannot bear the costs associated with government treatment and return to Mae Tao Clinic. We also need to further develop the feedback system between MTC and referral facilities.

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

[2] Mae Sot is a city in western Thailand that shares a border with Burma to the west. It is notable as a trade hub and for its substantial population of Burmese migrants and refugees. [Wikipedia:]

[3] Our relationship with Mae Sot hospital is now over 25 years strong now have further good relationships with other border Thai public hospitals such as Umphang and Tha Song Yang Hospital. In 2017, a total of 396 referrals were made to Mae Sot General Hospital, for all these cases MTC held financial responsibility. Out of them, 204 referrals were made for out-patient consultations, 192 were admitted in in-patient departments.

[4] While Mae Tao Clinic (MTC) began as a humble health service delivery organisation, it has evolved into an umbrella social services network for refugees, migrant workers and other displaced Burmese. As a focal point of these activities, we find that child protection is a rapidly growing area of need. The Children’s Development Centre (CDC) has continued to provide education to displaced children from Burma. In the academic year 2017-2018, 880 students are enrolled.