Children’s Medical Fund Adaptations During COVID-19

By Daniel Marco Siegfried

The COVID pandemic is having many unexpected consequences. Our Children’s Medical Fund (CMF) offers life-saving treatments for children with congenital diseases from Myanmar and Laos. However, since the borders between Thailand, Myanmar and Laos have remained closed since April 2020, our patients are stuck in their home countries and cannot access our services. Currently we have over 200 patients in Myanmar alone awaiting treatments, which are not available in their country, like heart surgeries. Some of these young patients have unfortunately already passed away.

Earlier this year we were hoping that borders would open in the first or second quarter. However, since the pandemic is currently ravaging our region, we do not expect the borders to open this year. This leaves our CMF programme underutilised, so we have decided to add two temporary interventions to address the current health needs in Thailand.

We have decided to add two temporary interventions to address the current health needs in Thailand

Firstly, we agreed to accept Thai pediatric cardiac patients who could not afford the expensive special equipment for the surgery as well as the special medicines, including therapeutic milk formula for post-surgery treatment of infants. These costs are not covered by the Thai social security fund and need to be paid by the parents, who often have to go into debt. Secondly, we are offering our referral health partners in the refugee camps along the Thai – Myanmar border the opportunity of our covering the costs at local hospitals for surgery for congenital diseases like hydrocephalus, hypospadias and gastrointestinal diseases, as well as for the treatment of preterm neonate with respiratory distress. These two additional programme interventions will run until the end of this year when we review the situation. We truly hope that the borders to Laos and Myanmar will open early next year so that we can finally treat our patients there.