Friday, 14 April 2017

Bagan Medical Clinic Update

This report is based on information received from Doctor Hla Tun on 14-Jul-2016 and 20-Oct-2016 and 12-Jan-2017. He also supplied the photographs. The delay in posting this report is, I'm afraid, down to me.

My previous report showed monthly statistics up to the end of March, 2016, when the total number of treatments since the Clinic opened on August 6, 2011 was 169,211.

Treatment Summary

The table below summarises the number of treatments per month from April 2016 to December 2016 and the total number of treatments.

Month Treatments in month Total treatments
April 2016 1,243 170,454
May 2016 1,676 172,130
June 2016 1,812 173,972
July 2016 2,958 176,930
August 2016 2,416 179,346
September 2016 3,366 182,712
October 2016 3,096 185,808
November 2016 1,989 187,797
December 2016 2,233 190,030

Bagan Medical Clinic Opening

The Bagan Medical Clinic is open throughout the year except for one or two weeks during April because of the Water Festival and Myanmar New Year.

Doctor Hla Tun is also Chief Medical Officer aboard the 'Road to Mandalay' river cruise ship operated by Belmond. During much of the season, this ship shuttles between Shwe Kyet Yet (near Mandalay) and Bagan, mooring at Bagan (close to the Bagan Clinic) from Friday to Monday, whilst the ship's guests explore the wonders of the pagodas spread across the Bagan Plain. This allows Doctor Hla Tun to open the Bagan Clinic on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Working from 08:30 to 23:00 (with short breaks for food) Doctor Hla Tun typically sees 90 patients each day the Clinic is open. Less complex cases are seen by other doctors.

Free Lunches

A free lunch is served to patients and their companions on the clinic days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday).

Free lunch being served to patients and their companions.

Donation of Children's Clothing

Donations of children's clothing are occasionally made to young patients.

Donation of Reading Glasses to elderly patients

Donations of Reading Glasses are occasionally made to elderly patients.

Bagan Clinic 2016: Distribution of reading glasses to elderly patients.

Health education talks

Health education talks are occasionally given to patients in the clinic by Doctor Hla Tun.

Doctor Hla Tun giving health education advice to patients at the clinic. br>
Need for translators

Some patients travel long distances from the Delta, Rakhine State and Chin State to the Clinic. Translators are required for some of these ethnic groups because of the local dialects they use rather than standard Myanmar language. Chin State, in Western Myanmar, is close to the Indian border and a patient from that area required a translator, as she couldn't understand the Myanmar language. This patient had facial tattoos, once common in the area.

Patient from Chin State with facial tattoos.

New Equipment for Bagan Clinic

In May 2016, the generosity of two Guests funded the purchase of a new dental chair.

Bagan Clinic, May 2016: New Dental Chair.

Opening of Two Storey Clinic Building

Donors have provided funds for a 2-storey clinic building at the Bagan Clinic.

2-storey building under construction.

On 23rd September 2016, the two storey clinic building was opened. It includes rooms for a Dental Surgery, Eye Clinic, X-Ray Machine, UltraSound Machine, two Operating Theatres (one for eye surgery, one for general surgery) and two rooms to accommodate visiting doctors.

Opening of Two Storey Clinic Building

The opening was celebrated by a concert given by students.

Opening of Two Storey Clinic Building, concert by students.

Individual Patient Stories

A lady who suffered from drooping of her upper eyelids could not afford to buy medicine and so she used tape or plaster between forehead and eyebrow at one end and upper eye lid at the other end to open her eyes. She was treated with eye drops.

Patient with drooping eyelids.

A boy with muscle weakness on his right side improved his condition after medicine and physical exercise. He showed that he could kick a football.

Young boy's improved condition after treatment.

In the previous update on Bagan Clinic here, we reported donations of anti-snake venom to hospitals. A particularly tragic case involving a snake bite concerns a lady from Chauk who earns a living collecting plums from under trees. Whilst collecting plums from a hole in the ground, she was bitten by a cobra. The local hospital injected anti-snake venom then she continued treatment with traditional medicine but developed a necrotic ulcer with exposed bone. Relatives and friends gave her money for transportation to Magway Divisional Hospital (about four hours away) for wound debridement treatment but she could not afford the transport costs for the necessary 3 or 4 follow-up treatments. Instead, she attended Bagan Medical Clinic where the cost of transport for further treatment at Magway (the equivalent of 8 Dollars U.S. per trip) was donated.

After-effects of a snake bite.

A 93 year old lady from SeikPhyu (about 60 miles from Bagan clinic) received supportive treatment and a donation of her transportation fee and accommodation cost to allow her to receive treatment in Magway Divisional Hospital.

Patients with joint stiffness and pain can be helped by electrical stimulation of nerve and muscle and the use of a traction machine.

Electrical stimulation and traction treatment.

Special Medical Clinic Opening

On Monday, 26th September 2016 the 'Road to Mandalay' ship was 'stopped' at Bagan for a week, giving the Doctor the opportunity to open the clinic for a whole week. On the evening of Sunday 25th September, there were still some 350 patients waiting at the Clinic. Appointments were made for these waiting patients to return on a specific day to receive treatment. Patients who had travelled long distances were temporarily accommodated in the Bagan Monastery or at nearby monasteries. The Bagan Monastery was able to provide a free lunch every day and at least one free breakfast and one free dinner but patients accommodated elsewhere had to buy breakfast, lunch and dinner each day for up to five days, adding to the cost of their visit.

One couple from a remote area had borrowed money for food whilst waiting against the security of their gold ring but, when Doctor Hla Tun discovered this, he gave them the money to recover their ring.

Depending upon the distance travelled to reach the Clinic, transport can cost the equivalent of 5 - 20 Dollars U.S. per person and it's common to hear of a pig, goat, chicken or duck being sold to pay for transport.

During this week, Doctor Hla Tun asked a group of old ladies, who waited four days for treatment, why they had not gone back to their village about 50 miles away and returned on the day of the appointment. Their answer was that, once they'd paid to go home, they would be left with no money to return to the Clinic. Most of the group suffered from joint pain but the waiting additionally produced colds and coughs.

Other reports on medical support in Myanmar

There are a number of posts in this Blog describing medical support in Myanmar provided by the RTM Social Contribution with help from donors around the world. You can find them all here.


There's a collection of pictures showing the Bagan Clinic from its inception here.

Doctor Hla Tun's photographs showing the work of the Bagan Clinic can be accessed by the following links:-