Medic Saw Baw Mu Say puts on his rubber gloves and says as he prepares to start cleaning a cut on a patients admitted to the Law Mu Thaw-Ler Mu Per Clinic.
“We have treated more than 500 people in less than two months after opening the clinic.”
Saw Baw Mu Say reaches for dressings from his simple three story-wooden shelf where he keeps all his medical supplies.
“We run this clinic by getting medical supplies from the Karen Heath Department and getting our food supplies from villagers who we serve. There is nothing else, we are committed to work for our people.”
The Law Mu Thaw-Law Mu Per clinic was opened on 22 October, 2016 with Medic Saw Baw Mu Say in-charge. The clinic is located in internally displaced communities who were forced from their homes by the Burma Army’s offensive in Kyaukyi Township.
Medic Saw Baw Mu Say runs the clinic together with two volunteer health workers.
Medic Saw Baw Mu Say acknowledges the support of officials from the Karen Department of Health and Welfare (KDHW) and local villagers for opening the clinic.
“At first, the district coordinator of the KDHW took the lead. During the two-months, locals provided food and shelter for us. We provide healthcare to them, they provide us with food. After opening, we treated 521 patients in the first one and a half months.”
Saw Daung Shwe, Chief administrator of Law Mu Thaw village told Karen News that they are happy to have this clinic because it is really needed.
“Health is important. Everyone needs to be healthy to be able to work for their living. We need our people to be healthy so that they can live happily. If we are not healthy, we won’t be able to work for our living.”
Naw Mi Baw, a patient from Wat Lar Taw village who is seeking treatment for her gastritis at the clinic spoke to Karen News.
“We used to face lots of difficulties when it came to healthcare. We are delighted to have the community clinic in our area. Although we don’t have money, we still get treated. I see a brighter future. It is good for people who are struggling with money.”
At the age of 70, Naw Mi Baw finds it hard to get treatment by travelling the long distance to Kyaukyi Hospital – it would also cost her more money that she can’t afford.
“To go to Kyaukyi Hospital, I need around 500,000 kyat in-hand. I don’t have this much money. I choose to come here at this clinic.”
Medic Saw Baw Mu Say explained to Karen News that main health problems at the clinic are related to urinary, respiratory, women’s health, diabetes and high blood pressures.
“Some of the illness are very serious. We believe that the problems are from inappropriate or insufficient food – poor diets. We have village based healthcare workers in our area. We give exact prescriptions to them. Patients who don’t recover within two days are sent here. We diagnose the disease here. When we can’t diagnose the disease, we work together with the government health department [in Kyaukyi] during this ceasefire agreement time.”
Aside from medical supplies provided by KDHW, Medic Saw Baw Mu Say said that they also get support from the Committee for Internally Displace Karen People’s Kyaukyi Office and the Free Burma Ranger.s The specific medical supplies for the treatment of Tuberculosis (TB) and malaria are provided by Government Health Department in Kyaukyi. Some patients with serious conditions are referred to Kyaukyi Township Hospital, according to Medic Saw Baw Mu Say.
The village chief administrator Saw Daung Shwe said that the clinic may be basic, but the benefits mean so much to them.
“This is our community-based clinic. It is our own clinic. The future of the clinic also depends on us. People seeking treatment here also contribute for the development of the clinic. This clinic has taken away a huge burden from the locals. It is very beneficial for us.”
Although there are plans to build a stronger and bigger clinic, it will depend on if the community can find the support for the building. At the moment, the zinc roofing and the bamboo wall clinic building has only three beds for in-patients, but serves 11 villages in the area.