July Hnin, age 20 years, is from Bago Division in Burma. She lives with her parents and two younger brothers. Her parents work as day labourers and earn about 3,000 kyat (3 USD) per day, this is not enough to cover their living expenses and sometimes they have to borrow money from their friend when they have any unexpected costs, at 10% Interest.
When July Hnin was 18 years old she had to leave school because her parents could not afford the costs of her education. So, she went to Yangon and found a job in a factory earning 30,000 kyat (30 USD) per month. After eight months at work she started to have fevers and painful hips and she had a butterfly rash on her face. She tried to treat her symptoms with traditional medicine but her condition didn’t improve. She was unable to continue working therefore returned home to her mother.
She then tried to seek treatment at Taw Kwel Hospital where the attending doctor said that she had a kidney stone and prescribed her some medication. Later, the doctor told her she had appendicitis; she had an appendectomy which cost 600,000 Kyat (600 USD).
Still suffering from pain in her hip and butterfly rash on her face, in April 2015 she went to Swim Inn Ku Tin Hospital where she was diagnosed with SLE (Systemic Lupus Eruthematosus (an autoimmune disease effecting joints and organs). A further referral to Yangon Orthopaedic Hospital for hip pain revealed osteonecrosis (a lack of blood to the bone leading to death of the hip bone) requiring a bilateral hip replacement. Costing 1.5 Million Kyat (15,00USD).
At this point July Hnin went to MTC because there was no way that she could afford surgery, referred on to BCMF to subsidise costs she was able to have surgery in July 2015. Following the hip replacement surgery she had to walk with the aid of a walker and do gentle excercises to improve mobility, and she was advised not to use a squat toilet for fear of the pins popping out. Generally the pain is improving, and she hopes eventually to be able to walk normally. Immediately after surgery July Hnin had to pay for blood tests, medication, dressings, hospital room cleaner, food and for the staff who helped her to Theatre costing approximately 50,000kyat (50USD) in total which BCMF reimbursed.
‘I feel so much happier and better compared to before surgery. I really want to go to home to Bago. Later on, once I recover, I would like to be a seamstress. Previously I worked in a garment factory, but I would like to have my own business and work from home. One day,’ she added shyly, ‘I would like to have a family of my own’