Myanmar: Red Cross volunteers help people fight off TB

Publicado: 23 marzo 2011 14:40 CET

Myanmar is one of the 22 countries with a high TB burden that account for 80 per cent of all new TB cases each year. It is also one of the 27 countries that contribute to 85 per cent of the global burden of multidrug-resistant TB. To address this high burden of TB, the Myanmar Red Cross Society is running community-based TB programmes in the townships of Tharkayta and Mayangone, which have a combined population of 200,000.

In 2007, Ma Ei Win, then 23, worked by selling hot food in front of her house. She was also responsible for the housework and taking care of her husband, a factory worker in Mayangone Township, their two children and her parents. During the winter, she developed a fever and a cough, and experienced tightness in her chest. She bought medication locally, but was forced to close her shop.

Then Ma Ei Win met a Red Cross volunteer, Myint Myint, a neighbour who had heard she was ill. Myint Myint had attended a TB training course and was aware of the symptoms of TB. She referred Ma Ei Win to a health centre for diagnosis and treatment. Her sputum was tested and showed up positive for TB. Every day for two months, Ma Ei Win took her TB treatment under the direct supervision of a Red Cross worker – the DOTS treatment or Directly Observed Treatment Short course.

On her next test, Ma Ei Win’s sputum analysis came back as negative. She was overjoyed. Her neighbour continued to keep an eye on her for another four months and her sputum was checked regularly, but it was always negative. Thankfully, Ma Ei Win was cured quickly.

“I got an early diagnosis and treatment thanks to the referral by the Red Cross volunteer,” she explains. “I was cured quickly of TB. Without the help of Myint Myint, I wouldn’t have received proper treatment or support. She treated me like a sister. I am so grateful to her that I would like to be a volunteer in Red Cross TB services,” she says with a smile