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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid