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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid