40 years old Naw Hla Paw had a severe pain in her stomach and her body was feverish a few weeks ago. She went to see a doctor but the doctor suggested that she should go to a more advanced health service facility and it could cost over 100,000 Myanmar Kyat, which is equivalent to her 20 days salary. She couldn’t afford medical bills so decided to come to Mae Tao Clinic. She was examined at the Medical Inpatient Department (IPD), and received the treatment for perinephric abscess…
Naw Hla Paw is a 40 years old woman, who is a mother of 2 children. She lives in a small village, Karen state, Burma, where has around 70 to 80 households. The majority of villagers are subsistence farmers and daily workers. She together with her husband has intermittent income. When they find a daily job, they can make around 5,000 Myanmar Kyat (USD 3.45) a day. There is no clinic and only one primary school in the village. When villagers are sick, they take basic medicine from a small local shop that doesn’t need a prescription. When one’s illness is serious they have to go to the city that takes around 2 hours. Many left the village to Thailand in search of work.
A few weeks ago, she had a severe pain in her stomach and her body was feverish. She took some traditional medication for 5 days but her symptom never got better. She went to see a doctor at a clinic next to her village with the help of her husband. Nevertheless, the clinic suggested that she should go and see a doctor at a more advanced health service facility in a city and said: “it could cost over 100,000 Myanmar Kyat (approximately USD 69.5, which is equivalent to 20 days’ salary).” She couldn’t afford the medical bills. After discussion with her husband, they decided to come to visit Mae Tao Clinic as they knew that the clinic’s service is available free of charge.
It took about 5 hours to get to the clinic. Moreover, they have to pay 20,000 Myanmar Kyat (USD 14) for transportation. She was examined at the Medical Inpatient Department (IPD), and received the treatment for perinephric abscess: Intravenous fluids, antibiotics, and the health staff drained stomach fluids as she received treatment for Urinary Tract Infection previously. After the treatment, she was admitted to the Medical IPD for further monitoring. It’s been 10 days and her condition shows a visible improvement.
“If there were no Mae Tao Clinic, I would’ve borrowed a large amount of money from people around and we could’ve lost our livelihood for that. This clinic is indispensable to people like me, who cannot afford medical bills as it saved my life. I really appreciate that Mae Tao Clinic provides these essential services,” said Naw Hla Paw 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|
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.
 Karen State is a state of Myanmar. It is bordered by Thailand to the east. Majority of refugees and migrants along the Thai-Burma border are from Karen State.