In February 2016, at a community health screening event, an immigrant from Myanmar came in with shortness of breath, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain. He was referred for a workup and was diagnosed with advanced liver cancer due to Hepatitis B. He passed away within 2 months of the visit.
Hepatitis B is an infectious liver disease caused by the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) that can lead to chronic hepatitis (long-term liver inflammation), cirrhosis (liver scarring), and eventually liver cancer. Though there is no cure, it is preventable through screenings and vaccinations; if caught early, its chronic consequences can be suppressed. HBV is known as the “silent killer,” as symptoms of the infection often are silent and chronic effects only appear by the time there is already serious liver damage. Therefore, early prevention is crucial.
SCREENINGS IN MYANMAR
I first personally witnessed this vicious disease when running the screening event at the Health and Largesse Program (HELP). Since then, I have conducted a hepatitis B and C screening at HELP in collaboration with the Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association Dallas chapter, organized community outreach events with SF Hep B Free, and advocated for hepatitis awareness with Stanford’s Team HBV. I was inspired to continue my advocacy in Myanmar, where my parents grew up, after visiting the Than-Sitt Charity Clinic in Yangon, which provides screenings, diagnostics, and treatments for viral hepatitis. While there, I also learned viral hepatitis is most prevalent in Asia, particularly Myanmar. According to a nationwide survey conducted in 2016, more than 6.5% of the Myanmar population is affected by Hep B.
This winter I will be going to Myanmar to participate in hepatitis virus screenings with the support of the Myanmar Liver Foundation (MLF) and local health authorities. The Myanmar Liver Foundation is a non-profit organization founded in 2012 that is running a nation-wide campaign to provide screenings and vaccinations for viral hepatitis through the Than Sitt Charity Clinics. MLF is actively raising funds for diagnostic services, vaccinations, and anti-viral agents.
MLF giving HBV/HCV vaccinations in Yangon.
My goal is to raise $10,000 by the end of November, which will help fund a screening and vaccination event for 400-500 people in a high-risk, underserved community. All funds will go towards buying screening kits and vaccinations for the MLF as well as transportation of MLF volunteer staff for the event. For every $20 we raise, we will be able to screen one person and give all three vaccines to those who test negative! These vaccines will give life long protection against Hep B. We will be gathering volunteer support from local communities and logistic support from the MLF in order to run the event.
To start, I am donating $1,000 from my personal savings directly towards this campaign for the screenings and vaccinations. In addition, I will be funding my travel and accommodations out of my personal savings.
Any donation big or small will greatly contribute to this cause. Moreover, I envision to make this project a long-term campaign to provide a continuous supply of vaccinations and provide continuous support for the MLF.
I will be updating the progress of this project throughout the next few months. At the end of the project, I will be sending each donor a personal note signed by recipients!
Thank you for taking the time to read this description! I would greatly appreciate it if you share this page with anyone who may be interested in contributing to this cause.
To learn more about the Myanmar Liver Foundation, visit https://www.myanmarliverfoundation.org.
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