Funding shortage cuts Mae Tao Clinic’s patient referrals

The Thai-Burma border based Mae Tao Clinic has cut the number of its patients for referral due to budget shortages for the year 2012, according to senior staff at the clinic.

Mae Tao Clinic also known as Dr. Cynthia’s Clinic, treats as many as 150,000 cases a year, most of its patients are from Burma or migrant workers.

U Aung Pe, a senior staff at the Mae Tao Clinic told Karen News, that due to budget shortfalls they could not afford to refer to Mae Sot Hospital patients in need of advance treatment.

“In past years, we could refer patients who were in need of emergency care or who needed specialist operations. But now, we have to prioritize referrals, as our funding is limited. We won’t refer patients for treatment beyond what we can afford, but we will try to treat them here at the clinic as much as we can.”

According to Mae Tao Clinic’s annual report for 2011, it referred 709 In-patients to Mae Sot Hospital – with 60% of them coming from inside Burma.

U Aung Pe pointed out that the funding cuts by some donors to Mae Tao Clinic might be due to the perceived reforms in Burma.

“We can say there are some changes in Burma. Donors might think the Clinic can now go back and open in Burma. Many donors are also channeling their money to inside Burma and their support to the border is decreasing.”

The Clinic sent out a funding appeal to try to offset the funding shortage they have of around 18 million baht [$600,000USD] for 2012.

Staff at the Clinic say the budget shortage not only affects the referral department, but it also has impacts on other areas such as the reproductive health department, the eye department, the child protection program, the out-patient department and the T.B department.

To meet some of the budget shortage, 20% of the Mae Tao Clinic staff stipends have been cut.

Naw Taw Gay Moo, a health worker at the Clinic said that the situation is hard on their living, but she said that everyone is helping one another.

“For a health worker like me, we face difficulties in our livelihood, but it is not only me who face the problem. Every health worker here is affected the same. Everyone who works here are working on their goodwill.”

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