Medical assistance is inaccessible to many people living in Burma because of the high cost of treatment and lack of free healthcare. There are also an estimated 2 million Burmese people living in Thailand unable to access the Thai healthcare system.
BCMF is one of the few organizations that has a strong enough relationship with the relevant Thai authorities to facilitate the transportation to and treatment of Burmese people at Thai hospitals.
Zin is a 37-year-old woman from Burma. She lives with her husband, son and two daughters in Myawaddy, Karen State. Her 17-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter go to school while her youngest daughter stays home as she is still very young. To make a living, Zin used to make different Burmese snacks and sell them at the nearby villages. But she recently stopped working due to her health condition. Sometimes, her husband works as a day labourer but Zin said she does not know how much he earns from that. Six months ago, Zin started to experience stomach-ache so she went to a clinic. The doctor there did not do any investigations, instead, just prescribed her oral medication. Although Zin felt better with the medications she received at the clinic, her symptom returned after two months and she went back to see the same doctor. The doctor again prescribed her medications, but they only relieved her symptoms for a short time. In early September, Zin felt like her stomach-ache has worsened. She had it more often and the medications that she received at the clinic did not help her anymore. On 12 September 2019, Zin had a severe stomach-ache and for the last time, she returned to see the same doctor. On this visit, the doctor performed an ultrasound and said that there are stones in her common bile duct (CBD), a duct that carries bile from the gallbladder and liver into the duodenum (upper part of the small intestine). Zin has been advised to undergo a biliary obstruction repair, a procedure to repair the blockage of the bile ducts, which carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder. If left untreated, Zin's symptoms will continue to worsen and put her at risk for further health complications in the future. After seeking treatment through our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund (BCMF), Zin is scheduled to undergo her biliary obstruction repair on October 03. BCMF is requesting $1,500 to cover the total cost of Zin's procedure and care. Zin said, “I cannot do anything now. I want to get well soon and start working again. If not, my family will not have enough food”.
Myat is a two-month-old boy who lives with his family in Hpa-An Town, Karen State, Burma. His father passed away when his mother was two months pregnant with him. Myat’s mother is a homemaker and she takes care of him at home. All of his sister and brothers are students. Myat’s grandfather drives a tricycle taxi. On 6 June 2019, Myat was born without any complications at HGH. Since he was born, his mother noticed that he has been passing white coloured stools, but she did not do anything about it because she thought it was normal. When he was just over a month old, his mother noticed that Myat’s navel was bigger than normal. His mother then took him to HGH. The doctor examined his navel and told his mother not to worry too much and he also told her come back if it becomes bigger. A few days later, Myat’s mother noticed that his navel has become bigger and his mother took him to the hospital again. The doctor again took a look at Myat’s navel and advised his mother to take him to a hospital in Yangon for treatment. However, Myat’s mother did not have money to go to Yangon. On 6 September 2019 Myat received an X-ray at Mae Sot Hospital (MSH) and was given a diagnosis of a bulging navel and biliary atresia, a childhood disease of the liver in which one or more bile ducts are abnormally narrow, blocked, or absent. Currently, Myat still passes white coloured stools. He also has a bulging navel which never goes away. His mother is very much worried for him, especially that she just learned about his liver disease. Myat’s mother said, “I would like him to be like other children. I feel bad for him but at the same time happy that an organization Burma Children Medical Fund will help him for his treatment.”
Ngwe is a 46-year-old from Burma. She lives with her husband and 16-year-old son in Winkabar Village, Kyain Seikgyi Township, Karen State. Her son studies in grade 6 while her husband works as a day labour tapping rubber trees. Ngwe stopped working three years ago because of her health problems. Ngwe was diagnosed with a heart condition that involves a malformation of the mitral valve, the valve between the left atrium and left ventricle. This valve controls the flow of blood, but certain conditions may cause blood to flow backward or the valve to narrow. Currently, Ngwe feels tired and sometimes she has heart palpitation when she is active. She cannot walk long distances. Our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund, is requesting $1,500 to fund a mitral valve replacement for Ngwe. The treatment is scheduled to take place on October 31st and, once completed, will hopefully allow her to live more comfortably. “When I recover fully, I want to meditate [at the temple]. I also want to help out with household chores and make merit through various activities,” said Ngwe.
Kyi is a 58-year-old woman from Burma. She lives alone and used to sell clothing in her village. However, she stopped working since her symptoms worsened, over a year ago. She now has no income but is able to pay her daily expenses with money she has saved. Kyi was diagnosed with a heart condition that involves a malformation of the mitral valve, the valve between the left atrium and left ventricle. This valve controls the flow of blood, but certain conditions may cause blood to flow backward or the valve to narrow. Currently, Kyi feels tired when she walks and has a rapid heartbeat. She has also started to experience chest pain and shortness of breath. Our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund, is requesting $1,500 to fund a mitral valve replacement for Kyi. The treatment is scheduled to take place on November 4th and, once completed, will hopefully allow her to live more comfortably. Kyi said, “I felt very sad when I was told that the surgery will cost a lot because I do not have enough money to pay for my own heart surgery. I used up a lot of my money to go to a hospital which did not diagnose me. I felt less burdened when I met Pinlon Hospital’s staff and she told me that an organization [BCMF] will support my surgery’s cost.”
Ei is a 31-year-old woman from Burma. She lives with her mother and two younger sisters in Dawei Township, Tanintharyi Division. Her mother and her youngest sister, who dropped out of university to work, are vendors who sell vegetables in the street market. Ei’s other sister is in her final year of university. Ei used to help her mother sell vegetables but stopped five years ago because of her health condition. Ei was diagnosed with a heart condition that involves a malformation of the mitral valve, the valve between the left atrium and left ventricle. This valve controls the flow of blood, but certain conditions may cause blood to flow backward or the valve to narrow. Currently, Ei feels tired and she cannot walk long distances and has difficulty climbing stairs. In addition to feeling tired, she has difficulty breathing and experiences heart palpitations. Due to the lack blood flow, her lips, toes and fingers are blue especially when she cannot breathe well. Our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund, is requesting $1,500 to fund a mitral valve replacement for Ei. The treatment is scheduled to take place on November 7th and, once completed, will hopefully allow her to live more comfortably. Ei said, “I want to have surgery soon so that I can work, and so that our family will have enough money. Now, my mother cannot work while she accompanies me to the hospital. Only my youngest sister works, and we are in debt now”.
Chan is a 36-year-old woman who lives with her husband and father-in-law in Shwepyithar Town, Yangon Division. Chan’s husband works as a day labourer on a construction site, while Chan is a seamstress who works from home. In 2010, Chan started to feel tired, had a rapid heartbeat and developed joint pain. She went to the clinic in Thaton, where she lived at that time, and received an an echocardiogram (echo) and x-ray. The doctor also told her that, if her heart became too enlarged, she would not be able to control her condition with oral medication and she would not be able to have a baby. She then received oral medication for a week which made her feel better for a while. In September 2019, when she went back for her follow-up appointment, she received another echo. Following this, the doctor explained to her that her condition could no longer be stabilized with medication. As he knew that Chan could not afford to pay for her surgery, he referred her to Pinlon Hospital. On 17th September 2019, she met the staff at Pin Long Hospital and who then referred her to Burma Children Medical Fund (BCMF). Currently, Chan suffers from chest pain, has difficulty breathing, has a rapid heartbeat and has lost weight. In her free times Chan likes to sew, cook and do housework. “When I’m fully recovered, I will continue to work as a seamstress, save money and live happily with family,” said Chan. “Once I have enough money, my husband and I have decided to adopt one child. And I want to do charity work and help poor people as much as I can.”
Khin is a 39-year-old woman who lives with her family in Hpa-An Township, Karen State, Burma. Both her children are in preschool. She and her husband are subsistence farmers, growing rice during the rainy season on rented land. The rest of the year, her husband collects leaves used to make roofs, works as a daily labourer or collects branches to sell. Khin was born with a scar the size of an ant bite on her upper lip. Her parents thought that it would disappear or heal on its own but the scar developed into a growth and increased in size. Her parents passed away when she was young and after that she went to live with her brother’s family. By the time she was around 20 years old, the growth had become large and soft, covering the area between her upper lips and her nose. When the pain became unbearable in 2005, her uncle dropped her off at Mae Tao Clinic (MTC) in Thailand, a free clinic close to where her uncle used to work. At this point, the growth had become so large that dragged her upper lip down and extended into her nostrils. At MTC, she was seen by doctors and medics, before she was diagnosed with a hemangioma. At this point, the growth had worsened, and she was bleeding from her lips. In April 2006, Khin went to Chiang Mai Hospital and had the hemangioma removed surgically. The growth later has returned. Overtime, the hemangioma has increased in size and become hard. It has now expanded into Khin’s nostrils, especially her left nostril, which causes her to have difficulty breathing at times. She feels uncomfortable but is not in pain. Sometimes she also feels like she has a blood clot in her nostrils during her nosebleeds. Because the nosebleed can start at any time and can last anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, her life revolves around managing her nosebleeds. She is unable to work or sleep properly, and if she is about to have a nosebleed, she is unable to eat. The nosebleeds have also affected her ability to earn an income for her children and continues to impact her social life. “When I socialise, I do not feel comfortable and some people think I have a disease that I can infect them with,” said Khin. “So, I hope to get better after surgery, and I hope I will no longer have nosebleeds. I don’t want to bleed, and I want to socialise with my friends and family happily. [Right now] my friends won’t even touch me.”
Tun is a 61-year-old man from Burma. He works as a day labourer at a parking lot and supports his family. He loves listening to music when he has free time. About 18 years ago, Tun's right foot was injured in a road accident. He just self-treated the wound because he could not afford to go to any clinics or hospitals. Although the wound did not cause him any pain or any other problems, it never was healed properly. About 3 months ago, Tun started to experience intermittent pain, especially at night. The pain worsened over time until he could no longer hide it and screamed whenever the pain struck. When his neighbors and co-workers found out about it, they advised him to go to Mawlamyine Christian Leprosy Hospital (MCLH). Once at the hospital, the doctor examined him and said that his leg is in a bad condition. The doctor also explained that, with the failed joint and non-healing ulcer, the best treatment for him is to have a below-knee amputation. Tun said, "I can’t work daily because of my ulcer. That's why I have no money to seek treatment. My children are not able to work as they are still young. I‘m not happy. I am in debt and it's increasing daily."
Mai is a 23-year-old woman from Burma. Lway lives with her parents and two sisters in Northern Shan State. Since she was three years old, Mai has suffered from an enlarged thyroid but her parents were able afford to take her to a clinic only when Mai was in grade seven. By then, the lump on Mai's throat has become noticeable. At the clinic, the doctor examined her neck and prescribed her medication. After a month, although Mai felt like her neck was still in the same size as before, the doctor told her that her goiter had been cured. Three years later, Mai's neck started to grow bigger. Having no money in hand, her parents did not take her any clinics although there was a tightness in her throat and it was uncomfortable for Mai to move her neck to the side. In 2018, Mai was selected to attend a training in Mae Sot. After her training, she was put in for an internship at Mae Tao Clinc (MTC). Through an advice from one of her trainers, Mai went to Mae Sot Hospital, where the doctor examined her and prescribe her medications. After three months of taking the medications, the doctor finally told her that she needed a surgery. Mai looks forward to receiving surgery soon. She plans to go back to her native town and work as an assistant health worker, after she has completed her treatment. Mai said, “When I told my parents that BCMF would provide support for my surgery, they’re very happy. They have been worried for me for a long time already. I would like to say a big thank you to BCMF for supporting my surgery. I’m very excited to be freed from this condition. I have suffered from this goiter for a long time!”
Daw Khin is a 68-year-old woman from Burma. She lives with her daughter in Yangon Division. She is retired since 2014 and her daughter works for the Myanmar Carlsbery Family Limited (MCCL) Compangy in Yangon. Daw Khin was diagnosed with a heart condition that involves a malformation of the mitral valve, the valve between the left atrium and left ventricle. This valve controls the flow of blood, but certain conditions may cause blood to flow backward or the valve to narrow. Currently, Daw Khin cannot sleep well at nights because she often cannot breath well. Daw Khin also cannot walk long distances because she feels very tired if she does so. Our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund, is requesting $1,500 to fund a mitral valve replacement for Daw Khin. The treatment is scheduled to take place on November 19th and, once completed, will hopefully allow her to live more comfortably. Daw Khin said, "The doctors at different hospitals told me that I need surgery but I kept refusing because I do not have money."
Paw is a 62-year-old widow from Thailand. She lives with her older brother in Thaw Lae Hta Village, Mae Sariang Town, Mae Hong Son Province. Paw has works as a homemaker taking care of her brother who cannot work due to congenital mental and physical disabilities. Paw has a younger sister in the same town who supports her financially and is her main source of income. Since 2014, Paw has been experiencing some abnormal pain in her right lower abdomen. She has been diagnosed with a myoma. She has been advised to undergo a total abdominal hysterectomy, the surgical removal of her uterus and cervix. If left untreated, Paw's symptoms will continue to worsen and put her at risk for further health complications in the future. Fortunately, Paw is scheduled to undergo her hysterectomy on November 19th. Our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund, is requesting $1,500 to cover the total cost of her procedure and care. Once recovered, Paw will no longer abdominal pain and she will be able to take care of her brother. Paw said, "Since 2019, I have been experiencing increased levels of pain in my right lower abdomen, increased back pain, and difficulty sleeping. Riding a motorbike aggravates the pain even more. I also experience dysuria and sometimes it takes me longer to use the bathroom. My appetite is good, but I cannot eat as much as I want because I experiences abdominal tightness, difficulty breathing, and fullness in my stomach when I eat too much."
Nan is a 22-year-old woman from Burma. She works as a medic at a clinic near her village. In her free time, she enjoys reading health-related books to gain more knowledge on the work she does. In 2014, while she was attending the medic training at Mae Tao Clinic (MTC), she had a fever which was followed by pain in her back and her right abdomen. Although she had ultrasound done at the clinic, the result showed normal. She was just treated for urinary tract infection, and she felt better after five days. In 2016, she again experienced pain in her abdomen but this time was on the left side. She went to a clinic in Taunggyi, Burma, where she again had an ultrasound imaging test. The result this time revealed a stone in her left ureter. The doctor told her to undergo surgery to remove the stone but because she could not afford the surgical cost 800,000 kyat (approx. 800 USD), she just asked for medication. Since then she had a few episode of severe abdominal pain, and she went to different hospitals in Burma to seek treatment but the doctors kept telling her that she needed surgery. One day in 2019, Nan ran into a friend who also had the same kind of health condition as hers. Her friend told her about the assistance she received at Burma Children Medical Fund (BCMF) and advised her to ask for help there. Nan then went to MTC, a partner organisation of BCMF. After confirming Nan's diagnosis, MTC referred her to BCMF. Nan still is experiencing back pain at the moment. She worries that her pain will increase when she has to travel. She has pain at her back and at suprapubic area, especially when she sits for a longer period of time and/or when she drinks insufficiently. Although Nan wants to continue learning and attending more training on medical and health, her health problem has limited her ability to finish her trainings. Nan said, “After I recovery from this condition, I will save money so that I can open a small shop, for my parents, to sell dry foods."