The Mae Tao Clinic will continue to provide healthcare services along the Thai-Burma border despite cuts in international aid, the clinic’s founder, Dr Cynthia Maung, said at a celebration for her 58th birthday on December 6.
“We will have to face many challenges in the future, under the current political transition. The Mae Tao Clinic will continue to exist as a learning center for our people, for the residents of the border area and for our partners in Myanmar. At the same time, we will continue to provide healthcare services in remote areas,” she said.
The Mae Tao Clinic has provided free health and education services in Mae Sot, Thailand to Burma migrant workers, local ethnic minority residents and refugees since 1989. It currently treats about 300 patients per day, according to clinic officials.
The center also partners with other local organizations to provide a range of wider social services, including child protection, education, and job training, to Burma migrant workers and refugees along the Thai border.
But the center is currently facing funding shortfalls as international aid budgets are slashed and funds are redirected to other programs and more recent crises. Representatives said the clinic has cut expenses, including staff salaries, by 20 percent since October.
“We are seeing a lot of [international] aid flowing inside [Myanmar] due to the current political transition. But, there are still many people who have migrated to Thailand [here], and the political situation is not stable, so the migrants re remaining here. Myanmar’s health system is still not effective, so this medical treatment system is needed,” said Saw Eh Pwo from the Karen Department of Health and Welfare (KDHW), who attended the birthday.
Around 500 people attended the birthday celebration, including Dr Cynthia Maung’s friend and colleagues, at the Mae Tao Clinic’s new building in Mae Sot, Thailand. The celebration included a Karen don dance performance, as well as poetry, essay, sport, and art competitions.