Saw Yan Naing / The Irrawaddy

The Mae Sot Clinic, a Lifeline on the Border, Relocates

Saw Yan Naing The Irrawaddy

MAE SOT, Thailand — Dozens of patients and visitors line up at respective wards to receive medicine, treatment and check-ups at the new buildings that host the Mae Tao Clinic in Mae Sot, Thailand. People of all ages have gathered en masse since 8 a.m.

The clinic was founded by Dr. Cynthia Maung, a Burmese physician and activist, in Mae Sot in 1989 after she fled Burma following a brutal crackdown on opposition activists in 1988. The clinic provides free treatment to Burmese migrants, refugees, internally displaced persons and others who are unable to access healthcare in Burma.

The Mae Tao Clinic moved to a new site in May of last year, following a land dispute at its former location. The clinic treats about 140,000 patients every year, according to its statistics. As funding wanes on the Thai-Burma border, the Mae Tao clinic has also experienced a decline in funding. However, due to committed donors, including some wealthy individuals, the clinic remains open.

Despite political reform in Burma, the healthcare system has not advanced, especially in remote areas. At the opening ceremony for her clinic’s new location, Dr. Cynthia Maung said despite the changes, Burma’s health services would take years to improve.

“The Mae Tao Clinic is the most accessible healthcare center for most of these patients,” she said.

The Irrawaddy’s journalist Saw Yan Naing visited and photographed the new Mae Tao Clinic site.