Senator McCain hails Dr Cynthia as a ‘true saint’

United States Senator John McCain, the Republican party’s nominee for the 2008 presidential election sopped off in Thailand on his way to meet with members of Burma’s newly elected parliament and opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Senator McCain met with Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva in Bangkok on Monday before visiting the border town of Mae Sot on Tuesday, were he visited a hospital in Mae La refugee camp in the morning and later met with Dr Cynthia Maung and her staff at the Mae Tao Clinic.

Senator McCain praised Dr Cynthia as a “true saint.”

“It’s one of the most impressive efforts that I’ve seen in the world, and I believe that Dr Cynthia in certain areas needs some extra funding both from governments and some charitable organisations in the US.”

In 2009, Mae Tao Clinic treated as many as 140,000 Burmese migrant workers, displaced people and refugees who could not access health care in their own country. The World Health Organisation has listed Burma’s health services as among the world’s worst. It is estimated that Burma spends as little as US$0.79 per capita person on health care while Thailand invests US$89.

Dr Cynthia Maung told KAREN NEWS that it was gratifying that Senator McCain took the time to meet staff and look at the Clinic’s health services.

“Senator McCain visited the in-patients ward, the eye clinic, our prosthetic workshop and our health and reproductive ward. He was concerned at how crowded it was, but that is our every-day reality. Outpatients travel great distances to come here. They don’t have choices, they have a desperate need for basic health care not available to them in Burma.”

Senator McCain’s trip to Burma comes a week after Joseph Yun, the deputy US assistant secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, returned from a series of meetings with government officials and opposition leaders.

A US State Department spokesperson explained prior to the visit that Mr Yun’s meetings with senior government officials in Burma “will be the highest since the new government was installed in March.”

“He’ll also consult a variety of stakeholders, including representatives of political parties, non-governmental organisations, ethnic minorities, as well as the business community,” the spokesperson added.

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