Meet Our Patients (35): Wai Wa’s Story – Bronchitis, Pneumonia and Mild malnutrition

A 7-month old girl Wai Wa couldn’t breathe properly and was feverish since she was 2-month-old. Her mom took her to the hospital a number of times, her condition didn’t get better. Although it is far from her place, her mom came to Mae Tao Clinic to get treatment.


Wai Wa is a 7-month-old girl from Phop Phra area in Thailand.[1] Her family is originally from Burma/Myanmar. Her mom, Phyu Lin, moved to Thailand around 2 years ago with her grandmother to look for a job in Thailand. Wai Wa has one older brother who is 7-year-old, attending school on the Burma side. Phyu Lin said that there is one Thai clinic and many migrant workers live in her town. Most of the migrants in that area are daily workers and factory workers, living in accommodations that Thai employers provide. Wai Wa’s family lives in an apartment that her mom’s boss provides. Wai Wa’s parents earn around THB 140 to 170 (USD 4.5 to 5.4) per day.[2]

When Wai Wa was 2-month-old, she started coughing and was feverish. A few days later as symptoms got worse, Phyu Lin brought her to Phop Phra hospital to get treatment and Wai Wa was admitted for 8 days. Regardless of the treatment, after 2 weeks of discharge, her condition became worse so they had to go to the hospital again. She was admitted to the hospital for 2 days. The doctor told Phyu Lin that Wai Wa has a problem with her lungs. One week later, Wai Wa’s condition became bad gain so Phyu Lin decided to come to Mae Tao Clinic instead of the Phop Phra hospital due to the cost and language barrier. If they go to the hospital they need someone to translate, which is not easy to ask for someone’s help for a whole day. As most of Phyu Lin’s friends are daily workers they have to be absent from work for a translation and they are afraid of losing their job due to the absence. Moreover, Phyu Lin and her husband need to pay for the translation that was too burdensome for them — in order to go to the hospital, they cannot work. Which means they cannot make a daily income on that day as well.

Although Phyu Lin could not use Mae Tao Clinic often due to the distance, she has known about the clinic as she was delivered of her first child at the clinic. To come to the clinic, they had to pay THB 260 (USD 8.3, which is almost equivalent to 2-day wages) to taxi.

MTC health staff admitted Wai Wa into Child In-Patient Department (CIPD) after a number of tests. She was diagnosed with Bronchitis, Pneumonia and Mild malnutrition. The health staff provided Wai Wa with antibiotics together with nutrition supplement. Wai Wa’s health condition has been notably improving: when we visited the CIPD for a follow-up, she was already discharged.

Phyu Lin looked very happy to see that her daughter is getting better during the interview. “I appreciate that all the staff at Mae Tao Clinic have taken good care of my daughter,” Phyu Lin said. “I talked with my husband and I decided that I will quit a work for a while, looking after my kids when we go back. When Wai Wa grows up, we’d like to go back to Burma and send her to school. We won’t live in Thailand for a long time as I have no work permit, it is not easy to live here. I cannot thank the clinic enough for the service that the clinic provides. It is priceless for people like me who cannot afford the health service and have language barriers.”

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] Phop Phra is a district in the southwestern part of Tak Province, western Thailand. [Wikipedia:]

[2] Although THB 310 (USD 9.9) is the minimum daily wage in Tak province, many migrant workers receive lower income as many of them work without work permit.