This month, MAP staff has continued to support Sai Sai, a Shan migrant in recovery following a motorcycle accident that happened nearly a year ago. Sai Sai had been returning home from his job at a factory, where he had been overworked in poor conditions. Since the accident, 23-year-old Sai Sai has been in a wheel chair and has spent a total of 3 months in and out of the hospital because of a hospital-acquired infection. Although Sai Sai was entitled to purchase a health insurance card and enter the Social Security system in Thailand at the time of his accident, he did not have access to either because his employer had not yet registered him. In Thailand, those holding temporary Burmese passports are entitled to purchase a health insurance card and are entitled to enter the Social Security system. Yet, their access to these benefits is reliant on their employer, who is responsible for registering them as migrant workers in Thailand.
Immediately following the accident, MAP’s crisis support program was able to negotiate with Sai Sai’s employer to register him and acquire a health insurance card. Because the health insurance card is limited in terms of what it covers, MAP staff has contributed to Sai Sai’s medical fund by covering the cost of his wheel chair and other health-related expenses. By way of connecting him with other organizations active in the Chiang Mai migrant support network, MAP staff has been able to find additional resources to help Sai Sai and his family, such as extra funds to cover his medication fees and free meals. MAP also arranges transportation to and from the hospital for Sai Sai’s bi-monthly doctor visits, which ensures his wife is free to go to work and provide income for their family. Equally as important is the regular counseling the crisis support program’s single caseworker provides to Sai Sai as he navigates this experience.
The crisis support program assists migrants in the midst of a crisis by delivering on-sight translation in hospitals, contributing to medical expenses when necessary and making home and hospital visits, in addition to clarifying information about Thailand’s complex health care system. In the six-month period between January and June 2016, the crisis support program reached 93 migrants (50 male; 43 female) who were either dealing with an illness or injury themselves (65 people), or who were the relative caregivers of an ill or injured person (28 people). Motorcycle and car accidents (11 people), kidney disease (11 people), and general illnesses such as the common cold (11 people) were the most common conditions affecting migrants supported through the program.
Oftentimes the crisis support program caseworker will receive multiple calls in one day from hospitals or temples who refer migrants to MAP, but with limited staff and no budget to contribute to health care costs, it is challenging to deliver full support to each migrant. To address this reality, the crisis support program hopes to expand its volunteer base in the upcoming months. In order to best prepare these volunteers, the program will seek funding for a first aid training.