TB Support: Lin Young Kyi Self-Help Group
The Lin Young Kyi Tuberculosis Self-Help Group (SHG) is a drop-in multi-purpose clinic located in one of Hlaing Tharyar township’s 23 wards; it is a densely populated, impoverished suburb of Yangon. Most of its population of almost 700,000 moved to the area following Cyclone Nargis in 2008, their homes in the delta destroyed.
Daw Mar Mar Oo, a professional nurse with over a decade's experience in treating TB, runs our project from a basic wooden clinic adjacent to a muddy and polluted channel on Hlaing Tharyar’s eastern edge. The team she manages is largely made up of ex-patients who continue to volunteer for the programme. We support adjunct care - such as supporting on nutrition and supplements; maternal and child healthcare; and public-awareness sessions around the spread and prevention of TB. We also treat emergency cases and fund referrals to hospital.
Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that can spread through the lymph nodes and bloodstream to any organ in the body. It is usually found in the lungs and is the second most deadly infectious disease in the world. It is estimated that over 180,000 adults and children in Myanmar are infected with TB, including 20,000 who are also HIV positive. Myanmar has the fourth-highest TB prevalence rate in the world, with an incidence of 525 cases per 100,000 people.
Multi-drug-resistant-TB (MDR-TB) may develop when patients are unable to complete their treatment course, if they are prescribed the wrong treatments, or if the supply of drugs is not available. MDR-TB can then be spread from person-to-person. While drug-sensitive, TB can be cured with a six-month course of antibiotics. MDR-TB requires 24 months of highly toxic and costly medicines and injections.
Our project is an important part of the journey to end this cycle. Not only do we ensure that our TB patients take their treatment correctly, but we organise monthly community talks to educate the residents of Hlaing Tharyar about TB prevention and how to identify symptoms. We also refer people to the local hospital where they can undergo a TB check.
MATERNAL AND CHILD HEALTHCARE
Hlaing Tharyar lacks the basic healthcare facilities found in central Yangon. As a consequence there is an unacceptably high rate of maternal and newborn mortality from preventable reasons, such as a lack of skilled care during delivery and the immediate post-natal period, poor nutrition, and vulnerability to infection post-birth.
Daw Ma Ma U provides a range of critical services to the township’s mothers and children. She supplies nutritional supplements including eggs from her chickens, mushrooms grown on-site, beans purchased locally, and rice. The group also distributes medication donated by hospitals in Yangon that are vital to the prevention of infection.
The Angus McDonald Trust provides funding for the group’s mother and child nutritional programme, allowing Daw Ma Ma U to reach more people in her community.
SUSTAINABLE FARMING AND MICRO-CREDIT
To ensure that the programme is sustainable, the clinic operates a small farming business on the land it occupies. The farm is staffed by several ex-patients who share in a small cut of the proceeds. They keep a number of chickens, collecting the eggs for the clinic’s nutritional programme, and also grow organic vegetables and mushrooms. The clinic runs a small micro-finance scheme, renting out land and chickens to locals for a small fee.
The Angus McDonald Trust is assisting in the purchase of 100 chickens to expand the scope of their output.