News / Asia

Thai Clinic Is One of the Few Health Care Options for Burmese Refugees

Burmese mothers wait to have their children to be treated at Mae Tao clinic in the border town of Mae Sot, Thailand. (File Photo)
Burmese mothers wait to have their children to be treated at Mae Tao clinic in the border town of Mae Sot, Thailand. (File Photo)

Along Thailand’s border with Burma, tens of thousands of refuges have few health-care options. At one key clinic, health care workers offer advice for expectant mothers, dental emergencies, prosthetic limbs and medicine to ward of the effects of HIV.

Mae Tao clinic

At the Mae Tao clinic in the Thai border town of Mae Sot, each week children receive vaccinations, especially for hepatitis B, for infants as part of the health care program.

The clinic, which provides care for more than 110,000 Burmese refugees each year, faces growing challenges to assist HIV and tuberculosis patients after the halt of an AIDS antiretroviral program sponsored by Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres - MSF).

Doctors Without Borders shut down its ARV program on the border before announcing in October this year its complete withdrawal from health-care activities in Thailand, after 35 years.  The group said it was leaving after it failed to gain permission from Thai authorities to provide health care for undocumented migrants and “vulnerable populations” in Thailand.

The 20-year Mao Tao clinic says, in its latest annual report, its ARV patients face increased difficulty in obtaining medicine directly from the Mae Sot Thai hospital, because its ARV program was already full.

Photo Gallery: Mae Tao clinic

Main challenges

The director of the Mae Two clinic, Cynthia Muang, says the highly mobile refugee population poses difficult challenges for health-care workers.

“HIV is still one of the big challenges because of the population mobility and vulnerability and economic opportunity, especially for Burma," said Muang. "HIV is still a big challenge because, according to our information or data here, the HIV prevalence among pregnant women is gradually increasing.”

Muang began assisting Burmese students fleeing the Burmese military’s 1988 crackdown.  The clinic now plays a vital role in border community health care system. It also includes villages inside Karen State and supports refugee schools in Thailand. In addition to reproductive health care, the clinic also provides dental care and prosthetics for victims of land mines in Burma.

She says conflict and subsequent social instability between Burma’s ethnic communities and government forces have taken a toll on child welfare and health.

“Like nutrition, childhood nutrition, malnutrition, and psycho-social problems because of abuse and drugs," added Muang. "Psycho-social problems have become a challenge and burden because people do not feel safe and they are traumatized. So when we talk about health you really need to promote psycho-social health.”

Workload

British volunteer doctor Mary Boullier says the clinic’s workload focuses on treating respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, and severe diarrhea and vomiting as well as blood disorders. Boullier says families travel hazardous distances to ensure their children receive health care.

“Patients here are very strong and resilient and the amount they go through to get their children to the clinic," said Boullier. "It is only when you start asking questions that you realize how difficult it is even being for them to bring their child to the clinic and the care - the count of sacrifice the parents make for their children here is amazing.”

Clinic director Muang says the clinic hopes to ensure on-going support for the communities, as well as promoting sustained development and a safe environment for those people facing life’s uncertainties along the Thai and Burmese border.

Last week, Burma’s newly formed Human Rights Commission has also warned of thousands of children in Kachin state displaced by fighting in recent months are suffering from psychological trauma, while adults face mounting insecurity because of the on-going conflict.  

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs