Daw Hla Aye is 66 years old and lives with her 70 year-old husband in southwest Myanmar. Their seven adult children support them financially – but with just barely enough for their basic living expenses. When CWS staff met Daw Hla Aye during flood relief activities last year, they learned that she was having a recurrence of tuberculosis (TB), which she first experienced, and recovered from, 15 years ago. For the past nine months, since staff first noticed her severe cough, which led to the new diagnosis, Daw Hla Aye has had treatment with CWS support; and, again, she is fully recovered. Because of her age and health history, and since under-nutrition is a risk factor for TB and TB causes under-nutrition, CWS was really interested to support Daw Hla Aye through a volunteer, who brought essential medicines, freely sourced from a Government clinic, plus multivitamins and calcium cereal every month. In talking about her recovery, Daw Hla Aye said she has regained an appetite and sleeps well; but she now has an eye ailment as a TB treatment side effect, which a doctor is treating now, and we are hopeful that she will continue feeling well.
Myanmar has one of the highest TB burdens in the world (WHO 2015) with a prevalence rate three times higher than the global average and one of the highest in Asia. About 180,000 people in Myanmar are estimated to develop active TB each year. So, while CWS support is small in terms of numbers, it saves and changes the lives of the people we do support, and it helps their families’ lives too.