Mae Tao Clinic

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The Mae Tao Clinic (MTC), also known as Dr. Cynthia’s clinic after its founder Dr. Cynthia Maung, is a community hospital which has provided good quality healthcare to the Burmese refugee population in Western Thailand since 1989. It is based in the border town of Mae Sot, approximately 500 km North West of Bangkok and serves a population of around 150,000 people [1] who shelter in Burma's mountainous border region and, more recently, the growing Burmese migrant workers in Thailand who live in and around Mae Sot.

History[edit]

In 1988, during Burma's ruling military junta’s violent suppression of the pro-democracy movement, which culminated in the 1988 Uprising (see also 8888 Uprising), Dr. Maung was among many Burmese who fled across the border into neighbouring Thailand where she established a makeshift facility in Mae Sot to treat the injuries sustained by fellow refugees. In that year the clinic treated some 2000 individuals.[2] The clinic has been there ever since and has grown in size to offer a wide range of health care services, social services, training, outreach programmes as well as child protection and health education. In 2006 the clinic saw 80,000 people pass through its doors.[3]

Today, MTC continues to care for the sick and wounded refugees, mostly from Karen State, who have been forced from their villages (follow this link for a run down of the situation there [4]); villages which are invariably burned to the ground in the military junta's 'scorched earth' policy - part of an overarching doctrine known as the 'Four Cuts'.[5]

In Summer 2008 the American President, George Bush, visited Thailand with his wife, Laura. The Mae Tao Clinic was visited by Mrs. Bush where she spoke of her support for Dr. Maung and the clinic's work.[6] It is thought that highlighting the MTC in this way was politically motivated,[7] designed to convey a more direct U.S. policy position towards Burma's authoritarian leaders.

MTC Objectives[edit]

  • To provide health services for displaced Burmese populations along the Thailand-Burma border.
  • To provide initial training of health workers and subsequent corollary medical education.
  • To strengthen health information systems along the border.
  • To improve health, knowledge, attitudes, and practices within local Burmese populations.
  • To promote collaboration among local ethnic health organizations.
  • To strengthen networking and partnership with international health professionals and institutions.[1]

Medical Services[edit]

  • Medical Service OPD (outpatients department)
  • Medical Service IPD (inpatients department)
  • Surgical Service OPD/IPD
  • Reproductive Health OPD/IPD
  • Child Health Service OPD/IPD
  • Health Education and Counselling
  • Laboratory and Blood Bank
  • Primary Eye Care and Eye Surgery
  • Prosthetics and Rehabilitation
  • Malaria Treatment
  • HIV/AIDS Prevention (Safe Blood, VCT (Voluntary Confidential Testing and Counselling service))
  • Tuberculosis Case Finding and Referrals
  • Mae Sot Hospital Referrals

Child Protection Services[edit]

  • Children's Development Center (K-12 school) with 1,134 students
  • Boarding Houses for CDC Students, 499 children
  • Dry Food Program for Boarding Houses supporting 2,100 students

Current staffing composition[8][edit]

  • Clinical Service: 227 staff
  • Medical Supportive Services: 72 staff
  • Admin/Logistic: 77 staff
  • Social and Outreach Services: 98 staff
  • Child Protection Service: 127 staff
  • Pa Hite Clinic (IDP): 98 staff

Dr. Cynthia Maung[edit]

Cynthia Maung - for some a latter day 'Mother Teresa of Burma'[9] - was born December 6, 1959 in Moulmein, Burma (aka Myanmar). The fourth of eight children, she graduated from the Institute of Medication, University of Rangoon, in 1985. Since 1997, Dr. Maung’s contribution to the Burmese refugee community in Thailand has been widely recognised and internationally acclaimed. In the words of the Committee from the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership,

‘[i]n electing Cynthia Maung to receive the 2002 Award [...] the board of trustees recognizes her humane and fearless response to the urgent medical needs of thousands of refugees and displaced persons along the Thailand-Burma border’.

[10]

Despite her substantial contribution to the local community the Thai government does not officially recognise Dr. Cynthia's citizenship status; she is essentially a stateless person and does not, therefore, enjoy basic citizen rights. This makes her existence in Thailand a precarious one and has always cast doubt over the clinic’s future.[11]

Awards[edit]

  • 2009 - Inspiration Model Award from "Khon Khon Khon", Thai Television Program
  • 2008 - Catalonia International Prize along with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi [12]
  • 2007 - Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award (Taiwan Foundation for Democracy) [13]
  • 2007 - World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child Honorary Award (Children’s World Association, Sweden) [14]
  • 2005 - Nominated as part of the 1,000 Women Nobel Peace Prize Nomination
  • 2005 - Unsung Heroes of Compassion Award from the Dalai Lama and Wisdom in Action
  • 2005 - The Eighth Global Concern for Human Life Award
  • 2005 - Included in Time Magazine’s November Article on 18 Global Health Heroes [15]
  • 2002 - Magsaysay Award for community leadership
  • 2001 - Foundation for Human Rights in Asia Special Award
  • 2001 - Van Heuven Goedhart Award
  • 1999 - Jonathon Mann Health and Human Rights Award
  • 1999 - American Women's Medical Association President's Award
  • 1999 - John Humphrey Freedom Award[16]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

About MTC & Dr. Cynthia Maung

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News:

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