BCMF was set up through Dr Cynthia’s Mae Tao Clinic in Mae Sot on the Thai-Burma border. Medical assistance is inaccessible to many people living in Burma due to the high costs of treatment and the lack of free health care. Less than 3% of national expenditure is allocated to health, compared to 40% that is allocated military expenditure, even though Burma is not involved in any external conflicts. There are an estimated 2 million Burmese living in Thailand and many cannot access Thai health care. The Mae Tao Clinic provides free basic health care to these people. However, the Clinic does not have funding or resources to perform major surgery.
BCMF was set up in response to the increasing number of children presenting at Mae Tao Clinic who required surgery that neither the Clinic nor Mae Sot Hospital could provide. Often, the only chance these children have to undergo surgery is to be referred to Chiang Mai Hospital or another major hospital. Before BCMF was set up children who required surgery had their symptoms treated and lived either severely incapacitated or died prematurely as a result. The aim of BCMF is to give these children a chance to a healthy life by funding their medical treatment. All children have a right to healthcare and we strive to provide this opportunity for children from Burma, but we need financial support.
The most common surgery we fund is cardiac surgery to correct congenital heart disease (such as ‘hole in the heart’ and Tetralogy of Fallot). If left untreated approximately 25% of patients die within the first year of life, 40% by 4 years, 70% by 10 years, and 95% by 40 years. The children on the program with congenital heart disease constantly suffer from lack of oxygen and it is unlikely they will live more than 10 years unless donors fund their surgery.
The Burma Children Medical Fund (BCMF) aims to fund the health care of seriously ill children presenting at Mae Tao Clinic who require treatment, such as surgery, that the clinic cannot provide. This support is essential and without it these patients will die or live with seriously debilitating diseases all their lives. In addition to the children who need your support, we are expanding the program to include special cases of adults and women who require surgery or specialised care including treatment of gynaecological problems. The Burma Adult Medical Fund (BAMF) and the Burma Women Medical Fund (BWMF) programs will be run in the same way as the Burma Children Medical Fund (BCMF) program. With your support we can make a difference to the lives of many families who see their loved ones suffering and have not got the means to help them.
Why BCMF was founded
BCMF was founded in 2006 to treat children with conditions that could be corrected with a “simple” medical operation or procedure. Many of these medical conditions needed surgery or special tests that could not be done at Mae Tao Clinic, but, if left untreated, would result in death or a significant disability. Burma Children Medical Fund was created to help these children by referring them to medical centres that had the necessary expertise and facilities.
It is worth noting that many Thai hospitals and large international organisations such as Mae Sot General Hospital, Umphang Hospital, Handicap International (HI), International Organisation for Migration (IOM), UNHCR, Aide Médicale Internationale (AMI), Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have all referred patients to BCMF for case management.