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Life-saving volunteers fighting malaria in Myanmar

‘I was not feeling well. I was vomiting and shaking,’ explains Ku Saw Reh, who lives in a remote village in eastern Myanmar. Ku Saw Reh’s situation is familiar to many in Myanmar who live with the constant threat of malaria.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 40 million people in Myanmar live in malaria-endemic areas, and in 2010 alone the country reported 650,000 cases.

Mi Myar, a health volunteer tends to a patient

Photo credit: Kaung Thet

A simple blood test saves lives

However, with support from our partner and the success of a local healthcare project, communities in Myanmar are fighting back against the might of malaria.

It’s all thanks to life-savers like Mi Myar, a health volunteer in her village.

Trained by our local partner, she plays a vital role in helping to reduce morbidity and mortality rates in the community.

She raises awareness around good health and hygiene practices, distributes insecticide-treated mosquito nets, and can spot the signs and symptoms of malaria.

Healthcare at the heart of the community

In addition, she has been taught how to carry out a simple blood test, using a rapid diagnostic testing kit.

Where previously cases of malaria went undetected, now, thanks to testing, cases are diagnosed much earlier, which means people like Ku Saw Reh receive treatment as fast as possible.

Mi Myar is one of 1,844 trained and trusted volunteers who are serving their communities and showing how very simple changes in behaviour, like using a mosquito net, maintaining a clean home and seeking medical help when you feel unwell, can make a huge difference.

‘You have to change people’s way of thinking – to make them see how important these things are,’ she explains.

‘With the skills I’ve learned and the support I’ve received, I believe I can do this, if not instantly, then certainly over time.’

The road to recovery

Thanks to Mi Myar’s support, Ku Saw Reh is now on the road to recovery.

He remains unable to work, which puts huge pressure on his wife, especially as they have a newborn daughter to look after, but Mi Myar’s swift intervention has made their situation far less bleak.

‘I think the project is saving lives,’ she says, proudly.

‘The people I have examined and referred are better now. They are well. The outcomes might have been very different, without a referral.’

Find out about more of our projects in Myanmar.

 

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