Visit to Thazin Orchard Clinic Hlaingthayar, Yangon, Myanmar
Medical Action Myanmar (MAM) is an international medical aid organization, established in 2009. MAM is dedicated to improving access to healthcare services for the people of Myanmar (Burma). MAM is non-profit, non-political and non-religious organisation. 2018 MSAP Projects Officer, Yuri Nwe, visited the clinic in December 2017:
Traveling to MAM’s free clinic on the outskirts of the city, I remember looking out of the car window and seeing rows and rows of dishevelled houses. Grey and worn-out; it was a stark contrast to the bright blue sky lit up by Myanmar’s ever-present sun.
Driving into the small lane that the clinic sits on, the road gets bumpier and the houses become more cramped together. A bright sign behind thick branches welcomes us in.
Dr. Nwe Zar, the Project Coordinator at MAM takes me around to the reception area, where three friendly nurses greet us with smiles. They are sorting through patient books – manual records that keep track of patient information due to the scarcity of internet access in the countryside. Behind them are shelves filled with patient books assorted by alphabetical order and date.
A few people are sitting on multi-coloured plastic chairs watching a television program in the patient waiting area. In the distance, children play in a playpen as they wait for their turn
Constructed in 2009, The Thazin Orchard Clinic aims to offer free consultations and treatment to anyone living in Hlaingthayar Township and its vicinity. It is open 7 days a week and employs 53 local staff. The clinic has two levels, constructed out of wood and ventilated with large windows that allow plenty of natural light and has walls covered with murals that brighten up the place. It encompasses 13 consulting rooms and 6 doctors working at all times.
Specifically, it treats people living with HIV/AIDs through the implementation of antiretroviral therapy and gene testing that occurs in the on-site pathology lab. Five counsellors also work on site to talk to patients newly diagnosed with HIV and provide additional support to all patients.
Management of patients with Tuberculosis (TB), a prominent and pressing issue in Myanmar, is also provided through examinations, sputum collections, patient isolation and culture growing techniques at this clinic. Multi-drug resistant TB cases are referred to the general hospital in the city, Yangon.
Antenatal care consultations with general physicians are also provided for mothers.
Moreover, analysis of patient data is occurring simultaneously at the clinic to track progress and ensure transparency for MAM’s donors. A pharmacy is also present near the waiting area to give out prescriptions to patients after consultations. A laboratory at the clinic also does testing such as SD Bioline rapid malaria testing kit and Uni GOLD HIV test. Malaria rapid testing is also carried out in 100 villages around Myanmar.
MSAP and MAM
MSAP and WSU combined has pledged to donate AUD $2800 to MAM annually for three years. Funds will be raised via the annual joint Red Party between MSAP and Western Sydney University (WSU) Medical Society as well as at the WSU Red Week. This support will be to strengthen the output of Thazin Orchard and improve access to vital clinical care in the clinic. An annual report from MAM will also be published to track the progress of the funds. In 2017, our donation supported 315 consultations at the clinic.
This is my granddaughter here. I’m here with her today because her tummy is aching again and she has this cough that won’t go away. She’s 2 and a half years old but doesn’t speak yet. We usually come to this clinic for everyone in the family. It’s so convenient because it’s close to home and everything here is free of charge.
Mother: She was 2 years old when I brought her into Yangon General Hospital. She was very skinny and not eating. They diagnosed her with HIV. I found out I had it as well. We have been coming to this clinic for 7 years now for free consultations and medications. Sometimes when she gets really sick we have to come in to get IV saline.
Daughter: I’m 9 years old and in the 3rd grade. We come to this clinic whenever we need new meds or when one of us is sick. I think I have been pretty healthy lately though. The only thing is I can’t see but we don’t have enough money to buy glasses.