|The malaria volunteer’s malaria|
24 April 2012 - A newly qualified malaria volunteer under the national malaria control programme and World Health Organization, Sai Phi Ha had to quickly get to work as soon as he qualified while high level observers looked on.
The 19 year old from Pathein in the Delta region had recently moved with his friends after his studies to work at the Min Tun rubber plantation outside of the large fishing town of Myiek in Thanintaryi region, south Myanmar. He saw that there was a high prevalence of malaria where he and his friends had moved to. He thought that taking a short course to be able to diagnose and treatment of confirmed malaria cases would be useful to help his friends and those living near him if they started getting ill.
Coincidently, during the five day course Sai Phi Ha was diagnosed with malaria. This generated a lot of enthusiasm amongst the training class and gave an opportunity to see positive tests from the rapid diagnosis test kits (RDTs) in action. For Sai Phi Ha, he was able to appreciate the symptoms of the disease first-hand.
Within two days of passing the course he was presented with his first case. The wife of a plantation worker, 23 year old Yi Yi Pyone had been suffering from a fever for three days. Having recently had malaria, Sai Phi Ha was in the perfect position to be able to understand Yi Yi Pyone's symptoms. Armed with just a satchel containing his RDTs and medicine, Sai Phi Ha set to work. It was hoped that his first time conducting this soon be a routine and quick process would not be hindered by half of 3DF's board informally observing his progress. Fortunately, the delegation also had a team leader from the national programme, Dr Tin Soe Moe who was able to guide Sai Phi Ha through the exercise of first taking his client's blood and putting a drop on the RDT. The 15 minute test quickly showed Yi Yi Pyone had vivax (pv) malaria, from which Sai Phi Ha was able to give her a course of malaria treatment. The three donors from AusAID, DFID and the EU were happy to leave the assistance to Dr Tin Soe Moe. Yi Yi Pyone was so happy with all the unexpected attention that she was completely overcome.
Earlier in the week Sai Phi Ha had come first in his group's post-training exam. Dr Tin Soe Moe said that Sai Phi Ha had made 'an extremely good start as a volunteer. Leading the course while suffering from malaria and treating patients with such an audience, not many volunteers with the national programme begin so memorably'.
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