Who We Are
Medical Action Myanmar (MAM) is a medical aid organization, whose mission it is to improve access to quality health care for the poorest of Myanmar people. We focus on the most vulnerable people in very remote areas and in urban slums, where most people cannot afford to pay for adequate health care services.
The initiative is from Dr Frank Smithuis and Dr Ni Ni Tun (previously working for Médécins sans Frontières Myanmar 1994-2009), who are working with a team of very committed and experienced health professionals.
What We Do
Our mission is to improve access to health care for the poorest of Myanmar people.
People in Myanmar have very limited access to medical aid. The poor regions in particular have few to no health services and we want to solve this issue. We are trying to tackle the problems by setting up a network of clinics in which basic health care is provided. In order to be cost efficient, the aim is to work on a large scale. Besides medical treatment, our organization also focuses on preventative education. However, in cases of malaria and tuberculosis prevention is not needed due to the fact that treatment helps reducing the spread of the virus. Therefore, mostly HIV prevention is provided. This takes form in activities like condom and needle distribution and the treatment of sexual transmittable diseases. To further prevent the spread of HIV, we treat pregnant HIV+ women in order to keep the disease away from their unborn babies. For people with insufficient funds, all medical services will be free. For others, some medical services will be charged. This will clear money for additional patients and encourage personal responsibility.
The health activities we are focussing on through the use of clinics or village health workers are:
– Basic Health care (BHC)
– Family Planning
– Referral of severe and complicated patients
Medical Action Myanmar is also involved in clinical research.
Meet The Team
The driving force behind MAM is Dr. Frank Smithuis, former director of Medecins sans Frontieres Myanmar and a long-term veteran in health activities in Myanmar together with two former colleagues, Dr. Khin Zarli Aye and Dr. NiNi Tun. In addition, a number of health professionals who have been involved in health activities in Myanmar are supporting MAM including Professor Nick White (Oxford and Mahidol University), Dr. Alex Winkler (former director of MSF Holland, currently director Doctors for Children) and Guy Stallworthy (former director PSI Myanmar, currently working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation).
Frank is the general director, overseeing the project activities, fundraising and financial management and he will also be responsible for external communication.
Zarli coordinates all business in support of the operations, including human resource management, project implementation and monitoring the resources and output.
Ni Ni oversees and supervises approximately 50 national doctors involved with HIV clinical medicine in the largest AIDS treatment program in the country.
Who We Work With
Community Health Workers
Aside from medical care in the clinics, MAM supports a network of 450 Community Health Workers (CHW) to provide health care in the most remote villages in North and East Myanmar (Kachin, Kayin, Kayah, Tanintharyi and Mon states). These villages never received any health care services so far and this is the first time that they have a trained health care worker with reliable tests and treatment in their villages.
The project started in 2011 originally with the aim to contain artemisinin-resistant malaria. Artemisinin is the last effective drug to treat malaria. Unfortunately, resistance is spreading and common in East Myanmar. This is a major health threat in the world. Intense malaria activities can halt the spread. In 2013 CHW working for MAM tested 73,076 patients for malaria and 7,160 patients tested positive and were treated afterwards.
In addition a basic health care package was added to the malaria activities of the community health workers. Up to December 2013 a total of 215 CHW were trained for the diagnosis of the most common diseases (including acute respiratory tract infections, diarrhoea, skin diseases), malnutrition and family planning and they performed 34,666 basic health care consultations. In 2014 we are aiming for an increase of CHW from 450 to 900 and train all CHW to be able to manage the basic health care package. Early diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis, a common and deadly disease, will be added to the package.
Myanmar people have been excluded from good health care for decades.
citizens receive the lowest amount of development aid (ODA) of all “least developed countries” i.e. 4 USD per person per year compared to 38 USD in Cambodia and 50 USD in Laos, both countries with a higher gross national income (GNI).
Additionally, there are very few medical aid organizations in Myanmar and most operate on a very small scale. Myanmar’s health system is under-funded. People have to pay for most health services and many cannot afford to do so.