Meet Our Patients (51): U Win Thein’s Story — Pneumonia

66 years old U Win Thein has been having respiratory issues since he was 50 years old. This year frequency of his cough has increased. One day he had a bad cough, vomited blood and felt weary. He was suspected with Tuberculousis at a hospital, sent back home to collect sputum. After U Win Thein came back home, his wife saw that his condition deteriorated rapidly…


U Win Thein is 66 years old, a father of 3 children. He is originally from Yangon[1], Burma, moved to Mae Sot[2], Thailand 15 years ago without children. He works as a security guard and his wife works as a cleaner at the same factory. He and his wife are only migrant workers in the factory and they make around THB 300 (USD 9) per day.

Since he was around 50 years old, he has been having respiratory issues. Whenever he had health problems he took traditional medication instead of visiting any clinic and he got better. This year frequency of his cough has increased. One day he had a bad cough, vomited blood and felt weary. The employer immediately sent him to a clinic in that area. A doctor at the clinic conducted an X-ray examination and gave him medicine. After the doctor examined the X-ray result, he suggested that U Win Thein should go to an advanced hospital to receive further test as he is suspected with Tuberculosis (TB). Next day, U Win Thein went to a bigger hospital following the doctor’s suggestion. He felt weak and couldn’t breathe properly. The hospital gave him 3 bottles to collect sputum and come back 3 days later.

After U Win Thein came back home, his wife saw that his condition deteriorated rapidly. She could not just wait for 3 days. While she was worried about her husband and didn’t know what to do, her friends suggested that she should bring her husband to Mae Tao Clinic to get treatment. Without hesitation, she took a taxi first in the morning and came over to the clinic.

When they arrived at the clinic, Medical Inpatient Department (IPD) staff examined U Win Thein, reviewed the X-ray from the Thai clinic. At first, the health staff also suspected the TB. The staff examined the patient with ultrasound and ran the sputum test at the laboratory in the clinic. The test result was a negative TB thus the staff suspected pneumonia, provided U Win Thein with antibiotics and treatment for pneumonia. The patient has been staying in an isolated ward for respiratory patients at Medical IPD for 11 days. He is getting back in shape and is waiting for being discharged.

“When we went to the Thai hospital, my husband’s condition was really bad. Nevertheless, health staff at the hospital didn’t seem to care, just told us to come back 3 days later. I wonder if we just stayed and waited at home for 3 days how things would have turned out now – I guess he could’ve been dead. Even though we have a residence permit in Thailand, it is not easy to communicate and get the proper treatment at Thai hospital due to the language barrier, medical bills, etc. After being discharged, my husband will go back to Burma and I will stay in Thailand to continue working,” said U Win Thein’s wife.

“Without Mae Tao Clinic’s prompt and accurate treatment, my husband wouldn’t be here, so I greatly appreciate all the clinic’s services.”

Mae Tao Clinic partners with Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) for the screening and treatment of tuberculosis (TB). Patients are screened using sputum or other specimen tests (smear, Gene Xpert, culture), chest X-ray and Tuberculin skin tests.

 Tuberculosis SMRU / MTC data

Patient group Number of patients screened Diagnosis of confirmed tuberculosis
Children 67 7
Adults 943 164
Total number of patients 1,010 171

We diagnosed 171 cases in total, of which 6 patients showed drug-resistant tuberculosis. Mae Tao Clinic referred 119 patients (of whom 48 were TB-HIV co-infected) to SMRU for treatment. We referred 4 patients to a Thai government hospital and 36 patients to a Burma government hospital. The remaining 12 patients opted for self-referral to other facilities. We have seen an increase in a number of HIV admissions following the expansion of our TB programme, and provide screening to people with history of TB contacts, especially children. Finally, we started to screen all diabetic patients.

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[1] Yangon served as the capital of Burma/Myanmar until 2006, when the military government relocated the capital to the purpose-built city of Naypyidaw in central Myanmar. With over 7 million people, Yangon is Myanmar’s largest city and its most important commercial centre.

[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. Mae Tao Clinic is located in Mae Sot [Wikipedia:]