These are the stories of some of the incredible patients MAM treats, with rare and sometimes complicated conditions. MAM pays for them to be treated in hospital, then will continue to monitor them once they return to their homes.
Patient Story from Nagaland
A 20 year old woman, from a remote village in North West Myanmar, was seen by one of the Community Health Workers with a very large swelling on her right foot. The swelling had grown over the past 5 years and the foot had such a bad smell that the girl had to live seperately and was in social isolation.
She had visited the local hospital 8 times without success. Unfortunately the hospital visits were expensive (high transport and treatment costs) and the family was now seriously in debt. Conservative treatment was not an option anymore as the infection (a Mycetoma) was too far gone. MAM decided to support the only treatment possible; an amputation and a below-knee prosthesis.
All costs, hospitalisation (84 days), food, prosthesis, transport was paid. MAM also paid the debts the family had accrued, because it would have been impossible for this poor family to ever pay these back.
The people who had given the family the loans for previous treatment generously decided not to ask for the usual extremely high interest.
The young woman can now fully function, she is helping the family with farming and is finally out of social isolation.
Young baby patient story from Nagaland
In November 2018, one year old Pyi was playing outside while his parents worked in a nearby field on their small farm in a remote village in Nagaland, northern Myanmar. Close to the Himalayas, Nagaland can be very cold in the mornings. Pyi was near a fire to keep himself warm, until he fell into a boiling pot of water. His parents heard him shouting for help, and found him severely burnt across on his face, shoulder and arm. They rushed to the Community Health Worker who give first aid treatment and referred him to the hospital. He was hospitalised for 12 days and gradually recovered. As a poor farming family, they could never afford the travel or treatment costs so MAM paid all the costs. He will have some scars but the quick referral prevented him from serious complications and scar tissue causing contractures.
Patient Story from Clinic A – Yangon
A 30-year-old woman attended the Thazin Orchid Clinic with extensive oral ulceration affecting her eating habits, oral candidiasis that is characteristic of a low immune system and significant weight loss down to 42kg. Her HIV test result came back positive and she was promptly started on antiretroviral therapy. Within 2 months, her condition deteriorated as she was, later, diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis. She was so weak that she had to give up working at the factory and required hospitalization and a blood transfusion due to severe anaemia.
Meanwhile, her husband, who tested negative for HIV, decided to end up their relationship as he met a new partner.
MAM provided accommodation at our patient house as she had nowhere to stay and dry food ration to alleviate some of her social and financial pressures. Our counsellor was closely involved in her follow up while she was taking anti-TB and anti-HIV treatments. Her health improved greatly and she is now clinically stable and recovered her normal body weight.
After more than a year on treatment, she continues to take antiretroviral tablets, attends the clinic for follow up and lives independently as she has returned to work.
Patient Story from Lotus Clinic – Yangon
A 10-month-old baby attended the Lotus clinic with his 17-year-old mother for severe malnutrition and tuberculosis. His mother was diagnosed with HIV at delivery and the baby was given post exposure prophylaxis treatment by the local hospital.
Due to financial difficulties, the family was not able to attend their regular follow up appointments until the baby became seriously ill in August 2016, with acute diarrhea and weight loss. The baby was then diagnosed with TB and started on anti-TB drugs at the local hospital. At the same time, an HIV test was done on the baby but the mother did not return to get the result, but came to the Lotus clinic instead. Our clinical team decided to continue the anti-TB treatment as well as enrolling the baby into the therapeutic feeding center program.
The mother received dry food rations and all travel cost to attend clinical appointments were covered by MAM. In the meantime, the baby tested positive for HIV and antiretroviral therapy was commenced.
After 5 months on treatment, the baby is now thriving and has gained considerable weight. He is also improving developmentally, able to grab objects, smile when stimulated and getting stronger with his limbs. His mother is much happier, taking care of herself and enjoying life again with her husband and their new baby.
Young girl from Kachin State with a badly burnt hand
“Even though we are not Magicians, let’s break the barrier together as much as we can”
Children living with disabilities in Myanmar struggle to fully participate in society and do not receive the support they need. 87% cannot seek medical care, due to cost and 20% are bullied. There needs to be a collective effort to improve the lives of disabled children.
11 year old Ma In Htut Dwe Bu lives in a small farming village called Shin Mway Yang, in Kachin State, northern Myanmar. When she was one year old, she fell into hot ash and burnt her left hand, severely damaging the muscles and tendons, and deforming hand.
Ma In Htut Dwe Bu’s parents are labourers and did not have enough money to send her to a hospital for treatment, her hand was extremely painful and uncomfortable , even after it had healed, she was never able to use it properly again. For 10 years, simple tasks like dressing herself, playing with her friends or carrying objects became much harder and often impossible.
In February 2020, Medical Action Myanmar (MAM) sent an outreach team to Shin Myaw Yaung village when the team leader saw Ma In Htut Dwe Bu’s hand. With support from Access to Health, the MAM team arranged for her to see an orthopaedic surgeon and eventually she received surgery in Myitkyina Hospital.
After her recovery, she could use her hand again! Her mother told us, “I am very glad when I see my daughter’s smile after the operation. I will share the information about MAM’s disability program to others.”
MAM’s Community Health Workers supporting Ma In Htut Dwe Bu’s village told us, “there are children with various type of impairments in my village and many other villages. They believe that disability is a punishment from God and there is no cure for it. They don’t know to seek medical care and plus, they cannot afford the cost for the treatment. But, I believe that the recovery news of Ma In Htut Dwe Bu will have an influence on other parents. And, I want to say thanks to the MAM Team & Donors!”
Although we cannot create a pretty original hand for her like a magician, we can break a difficult barrier in her life as much as we can and we are very delighted to have provided her with a better quality of life.