Sometimes You Just Need a Little Guidance: Ask MAP , Outreach on Thursday May 30th, 2019

 Option for Article 1

As part of the Community Health and Empowerment (CHE) sector of the MAP Foundation, MAP employees visit migrant workers dealing with various health related problems. On Thursday May 30th, the MAP outreach team was joined by the summer 2019 interns from Emory University, located in the United States. This was their first experience going on outreach with CHE. That day CHE met with two patients, who were both in the process of getting treatment for Tuberculosis (TB).

 Staff members and interns set out from the MAP Foundation around 11 am to visit their first patient, Htun, who was suffering from TB. The interns were awed by the size of the hospital and the way the hallways and rooms were both inside and outside, likely because Thailand’s climate is more tropical than the United States. While this allowed for a lot of wildlife to infiltrate the hospital setting, it may have also helped increase airflow and decrease the accumulation of germs. As the MAP staff made their way to Htun, they came across numerous patients in the hallways who seemed to be in bad condition. Despite the size of the hospital, it appeared as though there was not enough space to correctly house and take care of all of the patients. One of the CHE team members explained that overcrowding was a common trend in nearly all Thai hospitals. 

Picture 2 for Article 1

After reaching the designated TB ward, the MAP staff waited for Htun to get an ultrasound of his lungs in order to gage the severity of his respiratory TB. It is often that CHE team members will attend these types of hospital visits with migrant workers in order to ensure that they are aware of their rights and given the best treatment possible. Once the ultrasound was conducted, the MAP staff met up with Htun and helped him interpret his results and offered him advice regarding how to continue with his treatment. Then, the MAP staff accompanied him to pick up his child from the waiting area. The interns were surprised and pleased that patients were able to bring their children with them to receive treatment at the hospital. Thanks to the advocacy that MAP had done for Htun they were able to help him pay for his ultrasound. Without this the help of the MAP staff Htun may not have been able to check in regarding the status of his TB and may not have been able to tell if he needed to continue treatment or if he was on the path to recovery. 

After completing visiting Htun in the hospital, the MAP staff went to a migrant workers’ community across from a construction site where a new university was being built. Migrant workers are often supplied housing by their employers, and therefore it is up to their employers to decide their living conditions. Houses were made from corrugated steel that looked like it could collapse at any moment. There were large concrete basins of water to bathe in at the entrance of the camp instead of running water or showers. Trash littered the ground and many people appeared tired and hungry, likely from their long work hours at the construction site. 

 Upon entering the village, the MAP staff made their way to Num Harn’s house. Num Harn was suffering from TB and HIV and was having trouble paying for his medical treatment because he has been too weak to work. Migrant workers like Num Harn who lack documents, are ineligible for health insurance or financial assistance in Thailand and thus have to pay the entirety of their medical bills by themselves. Despite this, migrant workers make among the lowest wages possible in Chiang Mai and thus find it difficult to pay for medical bills without any aid. Additionally, because he lacks document, Num Harn has had to run back and forth between Myanmar and Thailand for the past 12 years to avoid prosecution from the Thai government. He has had to do this while still supporting his family. Before he became sick, Num Harn worked long hours at the construction site and was the main provider for his family. Num Harn hates that he is unable to work because of his condition and that he now has to rely on his 19-year-old son to help support the family. 

Once the MAP staff arrived at Num Harn’s house, they asked him to step outside as TB can be contracted by particles in the air. Outside, the MAP staff talked to Num Harn and asked him how he was doing. CHE then spoke with Num Harn about how his treatment was going and were concerned about his son contracting the disease since they all live in the same room. Thankfully, because the son has working papers, CHE was able to help him get a migrant worker’s health insurance card and encourage him to get tested for TB. If his son has contracted TB it would affect the entire family’s ability to provide for themselves even more than his father’s illness had originally affected them. After talking briefly, Num Harn’s son retrieved his father’s medical bills and showed them to the MAP staff. Thanks to the advocacy that the MAP staff was able to do for Num Harn, they were able to offer Num Harn money for his medical bills. Because the CHE staff spoke with the other members of the construction site on how to prevent the accusation of TB, no one else has demonstrated any symptoms of TB. Thanks to the efforts of the MAP foundation, this family can live a healthy life and support themselves.