CHIANG MAI, Thailand — Mae Tao Clinic (MTC) launched a fundraising campaign to help continue its services to some 250,000 people along the Thailand-Myanmar border who are at risk of losing access to essential healthcare and education because of funding cuts to organizations in the area.
The clinic has been providing free healthcare to the displaced and vulnerable people of Myanmar, including refugees and migrants along the border, for the last three decades since its inception in 1989.
Dr. Cynthia Maung, an ethnic Karen woman and the founder of the clinic, said, “Until there is an established health system in Burma, we need to protect and care for our communities, especially women and children. Even today, half of our patients come to Thailand for accessing health and protection services. They rely on us to help them. We cannot let them down.”
A drop in funding available in the area came after political changes over the past five years in Myanmar.
“Our services programs are not yet completely shut down, but we have been reducing our costs and referring the emergency operations cases as much as we can,” said Naw Annie Po Moo, the deputy director for the community operations of MTC.
Due to funding needs, she said, MTC’s almost 500 staff salaries would be reduced by 20 percent starting October.
International governments and foundations as well as individual donors have supported the clinic. According to its 2016 annual report, the clinic received support from almost four dozen aid organisations and foundations, including The Global Fund (to fight aids, tuberculosis and malaria), USAID, UKaid, International Rescue Committee and Open Society Foundations.
The fundraising campaign aims to raise funds for its 2018 operational costs, to help continue running their programs: primary healthcare, education to children and child protection and training the medics to help the communities, including those internally displaced people.
“The targeted fund is not for all running costs, but it would help to keep some of our services,” said Naw Annie Po Moo.
The MTC provide treatment to an average of 420 patients per day and annually they treat more than 110,000 outpatients—a tenth of them inpatients—and deliver more than 2,500 babies.
In addition, MTC provides social support and protection to more than 2,400 children living in its boarding houses. The clinic is raising funds to secure an initial US$300,000 for some of its operational costs.