Mae Tao Clinic to Relocate
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Mae Tao Clinic to Relocate

By SAI ZOM HSENG Wednesday, November 17, 2010

In this photo taken on January, 2006, Cynthia Maung works with a patient at her Mae Tao clinic in Mae Sot, Thailand. She fled to Thailand in 1989 and opened her clinic which today treats more than 50,000 Burmese refugees annually in addition to migrant workers. (Photo: AP)
Correction Appended

Mae Tao Clinic in Mae Sot, Thailand, will move to a new location because of financial challenges, according to Dr. Cynthia Maung, the founder of the clinic.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Wednesday, Cynthia Maung said, “I’m sure that the new place is not going be perfect at the beginning. We have to take it step by step.”

She said the cost of rent at the current clinic location is 200,000 baht (US $6,680) per month.

She said some international donors have cut the amount of their contribution, adding to the clinic's financial woes. A source close to the clinic said that some donors have reduced their contributions by 20 to 30 percent.

The clinic is supported by about 10 organizations including USAID, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Canada and Italy.

The strategic focus of many international donors began to change about two years ago when they shifted their first priority to organizations working inside Burma, said observers.

The Mae Tao clinic provides free treatment to Burmese migrants and refugees in Thailand, in addition to many Burmese residents of Karen State who cross the border to receive treatment.

According to Dr. Thiha Maung, a former vice chairman of the clinic, “Many patients are from Karen and Mon State, but there were some patients from upper Burma who need eye treatment. About 400 patients came to the clinic for treatment every day.”

Mae Tao clinic began in 1989. In 2008, after Cyclone Nargis, the clinic sent a medical team to treat cyclone victims in the Irrawaddy delta.

Correction, November 23, 2010

On Nov. 21, The Irrawaddy received a letter from Dr. Cynthia Maung, the director of Mae Tao Clinic in Mae Sot, in which she pointed out several errors of fact and inaccuracies in the Nov. 17 article, “Mae Tao Clinic to Relocate.”

First, Mae Tao Clinic will not relocate as the headline and the lead of the article suggested. In a telephone interview with The Irrawaddy. Dr. Cynthia said she “would like to” acquire a larger site for the clinic. In her letter, Dr. Cynthia said that a relocation of the clinic is not within the organization's current plans. It was also an inaccuracy to say that the clinic's funding, or a cut in funding, was linked to the supposed relocation.

The article listed donor countries and organizations that support Mae Tao Clinic. Dr. Cynthia has pointed out that Sweden is not such a donor country.

The reporter also referred to Dr. Thitha Maung as a former vice-chairman of the clinic. This, too, was incorrect. Dr. Thitha Maung is in fact the director of Thailand-based National Health and Education Committee's health program .

Finally, The Irrawaddy stated that in 2008, after Cyclone Nargis, the clinic sent a medical team to treat cyclone victims in the Irrawaddy Delta. While members of Mae Tao helped coordinate efforts, they did not send a medical team to the delta, Dr. Cynthia pointed out. (Go to article)

The Irrawaddy apologizes for misrepresenting the comments of Dr. Cynthia and Mae Tao Clinic in this article.

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Mae Tao Clinic Wrote:
We are very sorry to report that the Irrawaddy has made several serious errors in this article. We have reported it to the editor. The clinic currently has no relocation plans, it has always been the wish of the clinic to have a better site... and facilities but as yet this remains a dream. The information about donors cutting funding is also neither clear nor accurate, nor up to date. In 2010, we have in fact acquired several new donors. We do not receive any funds from Sweden. Dr Thiha Maung is not and has never been a vice chairperson of MTC, and MTC teams never went into the Delta area of Burma .

PB Publico Wrote:
I would like to urge the Burmese commercial and banking tycoons to come to the aid of the clinic. PLease save it to stay put at the present site. I haven't been there but I would like to see it there for convenience sake. This service is purely humanitarian. They can do it openly, just as much as they can do so inside Burma.

Sai Lang Kham Wrote:
It's a great pity that this worthy cause does not merit the tiny sums of money needed to continue in Mae Sot when governments are able to find hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out the banks.

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