Meet Our Patients (14): Saw Aung Thu Lwin’s Stroy

His health condition has worsened over one year and has shown a notable improvement last 4 months. Due to unknown disease of he has, he ended up not being able to see clearly. He needs an operation but could not afford the operation and treatment fees because he has already spent a lot of money of which he borrowed from villagers, and it was already big money for him. He had to give up the operation and come back to the village. To top it off, he was no longer able to work anymore due to his health condition. Due to the severe funding cut and various major donors have been shifting into Burma, MTC is no longer able to provide referral service to the community along the Thailand-Burma/Myanmar border apart from a number of emergent life-threatening cases.

 

Saw Aung Thu Lwin is 31-year-old. He is a farmer living in Pha Ann, Burma/Myanmar with his family. There is no clinic in his village but only one primary school. Normally villagers rely on traditional medication in case of sickness because there is a clinic in a different village it is too far to go for treatment.

His health condition has worsened over one year and has shown a notable improvement last 4 months. Due to unknown disease of he has, he ended up not being able to see clearly.  He went to Pha Ann hospital to get the treatment. However, a doctor told him his problem is not the eyes but the nose which negatively has effected on his eyes. The doctor suggested that he take the X-ray and the result proves that he needs an operation. He could not afford the operation and treatment fees because he has already spent 700,000 to 800,000 Kyat (513 – 586 USD), of them he already borrowed 500,000 Kyat (370 USD) from villagers and it was already big money for him. He had to give up the operation and come back to the village. To top it off, he was no longer able to work anymore due to his health condition.

After he came back to the village, he heard about Mae Tao Clinic that someone received the treatment at MTC and health condition became much better. Additionally, the service was free of charge. Saw Aung Thu Lwin immediately decided to visit the MTC and arrived at the clinic next morning. At MTC, the doctor suggested that he go and take X-rays at the Thai Government Mae Sot General Hospital. He was worried about the cost because he did not have money anymore and no one to support him. ‘This was the most difficult moment for my life,’ said he. However, he managed to go to the MSGH, which costed for him 700 THB (21 USD) but the operation cost would be around 20,000 to 30,000 THB (600 – 900 USD).

‘I’ve never had this amount of money in my life and I don’t want to borrow money from people anymore because I have to pay back with the interests. In reality, even though I find a job in the village in Burma/Myanmar, all I can make is around 5,000 Kyat (3.6 USD) per day, which is not left even a bit after paying for the food and taxes to both the government and the ethnic armed group,’ said Saw Aung Thu Lwin.

Due to the severe funding cut and various major donors have been shifting into Burma, MTC is no longer able to provide referral service to the community along the Thailand-Burma/Myanmar border apart from a number of emergent life-threatening cases.

Regardless of the situation he has faced, he made a big smile while interviewing and said

‘I was very happy to have stayed during ten-days of treatment at MTC. I can tell MTC staff have made big efforts to take good care of me and have done their best without any discriminatory behaviors. More than that, while staying here everything was free of charge which had me feel so relieved from concerns and stresses to pay for the food, accommodation, and medication. I’d like to thank all MTC staff who took good care of me.’

[Exchange rates]

1 USD = 34 THB (Thai Baht)

1 USD = 1,363 kyat (Myanmar Kyat)

 

This interview was conducted on October 2, 2017.

 

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