Burma Women’s Medical Fund
Since its foundation, BCMF has expanded beyond the treatment of children in recognition of the need for specialised medical care for adults. While the majority of our patients are children, we have two additional auxiliary programs, the Burma Adult Medical Fund (BAMF) and the Burma Women Medical Fund (BWMF).
Previously, BCMF focused on treating children; however, over the years we have expanded our scope to include women with gynaecological conditions that leave them severely debilitated. Women are integral to the survival and prosperity of their communities. Their medical care has benefits that extend far beyond the women themselves.
Gynaecological conditions are not always seen as serious because they are often not life-threatening; however they severely impact a patient’s quality of life. BWMF aims to fund the surgical and support costs involved in common gynaecological conditions such as uterine prolapse, ovarian cysts, and uterine
- Ovarian cysts can be painful and can grow quiet large, and can, in fact, be cancerous
- Uterine masses are most commonly fibroids (benign tumors) which may be associated with pain and excessive menstrual blood loss. Women are additionally burdened by these symptoms as a loss of blood can worsen anemia, a prevalent condition in this population resulting from poor nutrition and parasites.
- Uterine prolapse can become so advanced that the cervix and uterus protrude from the vagina, making a patient feel like her insides are falling out. Exertion worsens the condition, but physical labor is an inescapable fact of life for many women in Burma. Uterine prolapse can be readily resolved with a hysterectomy.
- Vaginal fistulas and rectal-vaginal fistulas are common conditions for which women are referred to BWMF. The fistulas are often caused by damage to the birth canal that commonly occurs during home births in Burma. Fistulas can make women susceptible to chronic and severe urinary tract infection and prolonged obstructed labor in young women.
The majority of BWMF patients can undergo surgery at a relatively low cost at the local Thai hospital in Mae Sot. BCMF works closely with Mae Tao’s Reproductive Health Department to manage this program. Because the majority of BWMF patients can undergo surgery at Mae Sot Hospital, costs are usually lower and as a result, more patients can be treated.
Women in Burma face ongoing human rights violations and their lack of access to healthcare is a direct violation of their right to health. In fact, a Back Pack Health Worker Team (BPHWT) report shows a direct correlation between human rights abuses in eastern Burma and reproductive health outcomes. It also shows that these abuses are directly related to the “downstream effects of war and poverty.” The debilitating gynaecological conditions women on the Thai-Burma border suffer from are linked to poverty and a lack of access to resources. By addressing the healthcare needs of women on the Thai-Burma border we aim to restore dignity, as well as begin to redress the impact of these numerous rights violations.