By Dr M

This blog is written by volunteer medical doctor of Tele-Kyanmar and Myanmar diaspora, Dr M. Dr M shares her volunteer experiences of giving teleconsultations to patients in Myanmar and congratulates Tele-Kyanmar for one year anniversary.

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Dr M has been working as a General Practitioner in the UK for almost a decade. Her other big area of interest is teaching and training, and she has been accredited as a GP trainer too.

Being part of “Tele-Kyanmar” has been one of the biggest blessings for me amidst all these chaos over past 15 months. Thank you so much “Tele-Kyanmar” for letting me be part of you.

My name is Dr M, one of the Myanmar Diasporas and volunteers. I have been working as a General Practitioner in UK for almost a decade. My other big area of interest is teaching and training, and I have been accredited as a GP trainer too. “Providing care as a whole person rather than a patient” is the most rewarding aspect of my work.

1st of February 2021 was doomsday for Myanmar Healthcare.  There is not much worse than a military coup in the middle of pandemic. It brought the COVID19 vaccination program to a halt and the continuing instability is pushing the healthcare system to the very brink.

Following the coup, doctors, nurses, other health care workers and administration staff in Myanmar started the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) to show support for the democratically elected government, as well as to reject oppression from an unelected military regime. The CDM gained momentum across the country, with other sectors joining the movement. In retaliation, the military regime has targeted medical professionals by means of intimidation, arbitrary arrests, false accusation and defamation.

Medical students and doctors joined the protests in Yangon
Medical students and doctors joined the protests in Yangon

To keep it short, the actions of the Myanmar armed forces have caused the near collapse of the healthcare system.

I was heartbroken at the overwhelming news from my home country and my inability to help. A mixture of sorrow, anger and guilt were killing me every day.

I kept looking for an opportunity to help Myanmar every single second. In early April 2021, another Myanmar Diaspora member asked me whether I was available to help virtual healthcare session for people in Myanmar. I was so overwhelmed and answered a big fat YES without any hesitation. This was the very first step to help Myanmar healthcare and it was called “Virtual Clinical Specialist Support” (VCSS) session, and I believe that was the foundation of “Tele-Kyanmar”.

VCSS was quickly moved onto Tele-Kyanmar within 4-5 weeks and managed to successfully launch first online clinic on 19th of June 2021, birthday of Daw Aung San Su Kyi.  Since then, Tele-Kyanmar has been flourishing.

Tele-kyanmar was formed by very determined, dedicated, and multi-talented CDM doctors from Myanmar. Their relentless effort to improve the quality of Tele-Kyanmar is now paying off.  It is well-established on social media and there is awareness of it among Myanmar people all over the world.

Burmese diaspora doctors across the world are volunteering

I volunteered on general medical side of Tele-Kyanmar and my team is “walk-in clinic”. When I first joined Tele-Kyanmar, I must admit, I had fears of technical barriers, communication barriers with tele-consultation being new culture for Myanmar communities. All those fears were gone within first couple of weeks. Patients were keen to follow guidance and disciplines, were happy to wait online while doctor is busy seeing another patient, they also persevered with poor internet connections. This has been the key reason why I want to continue volunteering with Tele-Kyanmar till we get our high quality Federal Healthcare.

The words, “Thank you so much doctor”, “And we must win this fight”, “take care yourself and be safe” at the end of the consultations always made my heart warm and my eyes shed tears. 

At the beginning, I was also worried about some difference in practices, guidance, resources, available medications in local area. Again, this has not been a problem due to systematic support of my Myanmar colleagues who have compiled a very comprehensive handbook for overseas volunteers. Hats off to all their hard work and thoughtfulness.

In my opinion, main success of Tele-Kyanmar is its wide coverage. It also provides health education with easily understandable posts on the Facebook page. It can be accessed easily by people all over Myanmar and outside Myanmar. I was thrilled after consulting one of the Myanmar migrant workers from border area of Thailand. He highly appreciated the service as it was very hard to access healthcare due to COVID19 lockdown in his area at that time and also, he was going through some financial difficulties. I came across a young lady who is working as a housemaid in Singapore. She was so grateful as she could speak to a doctor without any stress around language or money. I think this is an excellent example of providing service to the right group of end users.

Without going through any challenges, we won’t be getting to our destinations. One of the major challenges for me was COVID19 cases. Without a doubt, Myanmar during the third wave of COVID19 was a living hell. All people were scared, being confused by a mixture of information, living with all sense of insecurity. Treating ill and vulnerable COVID patients virtually within all limited facilities was the most challenging part of my experience. However, COVID dedicated channels and COVID guidelines were quickly set up soon implemented with lots of online support that eased my worries.

We don’t only treat the patients, but also make sure we have a chance to update knowledge within the team. There is a formal teaching/ knowledge sharing sessions every Sunday. However, I particularly enjoy opportunistic quiz sessions in our group chat. It has been more than colleagues; we are becoming friends and family!

All in all, for patients, Tele-Kyanmar has been an oasis while walking through the desert full of hardships. For me, it has been a real godsend especially while I got lost in the middle of sorrow and guilt for my people in Myanmar.

To learn more about our response to the military coup, please read the CGHP Statement.

If you are interested in supporting CGHP, please follow the donate button below or contact the team.