|Only if you have experienced what it’s like having malaria, will you understand that this little girl in the refugee camp does not want to move at all. All she asks is to lay her head on her mother’s arm. Her mother stays with her and comforts her.
||At the miscellaneous grocery shop in a rural village in Karen State, this is a familiar scene on the shelves. Apart from traditional herbal medicine, antibiotics and malaria medicines are commonly available. Although quality is questionable, for local people who live far from a health care centre, this is the first stop for self-treatment.
||This woman says she appreciates being able to get back on her feet again and back to work at this rubber plantation, after completing tuberculosis (TB) treatment at SMRU TB centre. “It is like having a new life” she said.
|This TB patient was able to get back to work at the rubber plantation following her TB treatment. However, rubber tapping at dawn exposes the workers to malaria. Growing up in southern Mon state Myanmar, the rubber business is the only way she knows to earn her living. Tuberculosis is now more frequent than malaria in some areas. It is long and hard to treat and comes with stigmatisation, including from family members.
||A TB patient at Kokko TB centre shows his living space. A well thought out living space was designed with good air circulation and individual privacy. Not exactly 'home away from home' but some patients have nowhere else to go and can stay here 6 to 20 months to receive their treatment.
||To ensure that children are growing properly, mothers attend follow up appointments of the child development research study and clinic until the age of two.
|Breastmilk is the best food for infants. Some women try so hard but may not have enough milk. It could be for many reasons but our staff have to work hard and try their best to encourage mothers to breast feed their children as much as they can.
||Pre-term twins receive phototherapy as their father helps with care. Having one baby is already something, but having twins is a real challenge. Parents have to synchronise well between milk pumping, changing nappies, and having a close eye on them, because sometimes they decide to pause breathing. These things keep parents and health workers on their toes, but all are excited about how much they grow each day before they finally can go home.
||Inside SMRU clinic in the special care baby unit two young couples gave birth near the same time and have bonded as their newborns who are premature or too ill to go back home are hospitalised together. The babies are kept until their body weight has reached a normal level for their age. Here, the parents are having a friendly competition about whose baby will reach the standard weight first.
|On sunny mornings, accompanied by our staff member who has to catch an early morning trip to the clinic, mothers bring their children out to sunbathe in early morning sunrays. This is to reduce the jaundice that affects many newborns. The UV from the sun can be effective if the jaundice is mild. The mothers understand our suggestions and practice it when they get back home.
||Shoes waiting for their owners: the women attending the SMRU maternal and child health services at Mawker Tai clinic.
||A local ophthalmologist explains to the patient in their own language the findings and the process after examination. The room was crowded with patients from near and far. This woman lost her eye while harvesting rice. Normally a rice field seen from a distance seems to be gentle and one wants to roll around on it but the leaves can be like sharp blades if not handled properly. What touched my heart were the words from the eye doctor. “For a person living in the dark, even the chance of getting back some normal eye sight, not 100% but even a dim ray of light, is a big thing for them.” Every three months the team comes back to this rural community treating those who can’t afford to see a specialist in the city.