A factory worker takes the lead in TB control

Ma Htet Htet Win is in many ways a normal girl in Myanmar. Living in Monywa, east of Mandalay, she completed the 7th standard in school and then took a job in a factory that makes fast food snacks.

One day in May 2013, an outreach worker from the MBCA Industrial Zone Clinic came to her factory. The outreach worker gave information about TB and MDR-TB, discussed disease transmission and symptoms, and gave guidance to the workers to help identify people with TB.

Ma Htet already had strong feelings about TB. She had witnessed neighbors with the disease and had the sense that she would like to to help people in that situation if she could. She listened carefully to the presentation and realized that this was her chance to help.

She talked to the outreach worker and volunteered to serve as a “TB Champion” for her factory, to spread accurate knowledge, help to fight transmission, and encourage referrals when she saw certain symptoms.  The factory owner agreed, and Ma Htet joined MBCA’s training for TB Champions in June 2013, ultimately becoming an avid participant in group gatherings and activities. Before long, she had referred some possible TB cases in her area to the MBCA clinic.

But Ma Htet’s motivation did not stop there. A critical issue in the group of TB Champions is for the group to become self-sustaining after the end of the CAP-TB project. In April of 2014, the group voted on its new name -- Say Ta Na Myitta, meaning "good will and affection" -- and its new existence as an independent organization, holding an election for three leadership positions.

To Ma Htet’s joy, she was elected to one of the leadership roles of the new organization. Supported by her family, this young factory worker now leads a TB organization whose existence may save dozens of lives in her area. She also continues her employment in the snack factory.

CAP-TB is proud when we come across community members stepping up and working to fight disease based on their own passion and motivation. We’re glad to meet this woman and hope we see a lifelong career of helping others.