Malaria story shared by Saw Win Tun (program manager assistant, SMRU)

My name is Saw Win Tun. I was born in a war conflict rural village at Karen State in Myanmar as an ethnic minority. At that time, due to a remote area with poor lifestyle and available health services, many people in my village were suffering from several diseases, including malaria. When I was 22 years old, my mother died of chronic disease, and my father was killed. I had malaria infection twice in my childhood because I have little knowledge about prevention behavior. I have also witnessed some of my neighbor and villagers died of treatable diseases. I wanted to help the community people to improve the socio-economic and overall health status, at least free from a preventable disease, including malaria. For this endeavor, I decided to pursue further study and joined the Leadership and Management training college in Mae-La refugee camp, Tak Province, Thailand, from 2006 to 2010. Before and after my study, I helped my community working as a social affair officer in a local youth organization in Hpa-an district in Karen state.

I was able to be a part of my dream work to assist in malaria activity with the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) at Targeted Malaria Elimination pilot study in Myanmar in 2013. Currently, I serve the ethnic community in Myanmar working as a program manager assistant together with the community engagement team and works as a political consultant, liaison officer among ethnic arm group and government. This provides me an opportunity to engage with different levels of policymakers and stakeholders to discuss operational strategy for malaria elimination at the community level. Besides, I can provide training and community awareness session and treat other diseases while working with malaria. As an ethnic community member, I have witnessed the change in community people’s health since the Global fund had provided funding support to address Malaria, TB, and HIV in a rural community not only in Myanmar but also in the GMS region. Still, people in my community have to walk miles to get medicine for basic health issues like fever management, diarrhea and pneumonia and some of their life has been taken just because they could not get those medicine and health services in their community. Hence, there is a need for integrated health service in the rural community as close as possible. I hope the Global Fund will continue supporting poor community and help them improve their health until we achieve our goal to eliminate malaria.