Catalyst Asia: Helping the Most Vulnerable in a Thai Border Town

July 6, 2015

 Patients wait at the pharmacy in Mae Tao Clinic for their medication. (Credit: Dene-Hern Chen)

Patients wait at the pharmacy in Mae Tao Clinic for their medication. (Credit: Dene-Hern Chen)

TAK PROVINCE, Thailand – Ask anyone in the Thai border town of Mae Sot for directions to Mae Tao Clinic, and they would instruct you to go towards the bus station on the highway, and look for a crowd of Burmese people. Tucked off the side of the road, this clinic may be modest in size but it serves as a helpline for hundreds of thousands of migrant workers and refugees flooding in from Burma.

 Dr. Cynthia Maung (Credit: Dene-Hern Chen)

Dr. Cynthia Maung (Credit: Dene-Hern Chen)

Started by Dr. Cynthia Maung in 1989, the clinic attends to roughly 400 patients daily, treating ailments ranging from malaria and dengue to helping landmine victims who were injured by along the border.

In one corner of the compound, about 20 people stand in front of an eye chart with one eye covered, reciting letters out loud. Not far from them, dozens of young parents cradle their toddlers as they wait to see the pediatrician. Further inside, there is an infirmary for long-term patients, as well as a workshop where young trainees learn how to shape prosthetic limbs outfitted for landmine victims.

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