Daily Archives: March 24, 2008

Medecine beyond boundaries

On Saturday on our way south of Mae Sot to attend the celebrations for a new building and jubilee of a Karen Church (which I plan to write about later, maybe tomorrow) we stopped for a while at The Mae Tao Clinic (Dr Cynthia’s Clinic).

Dr Cynthia is a Karen medic who began a small clinic for refugees and IDPs (I think it was about 18 years ago that she began) now the “clinic” is like a small town hospital. As well as Dr Cynthia herself the staff are an interesting mix of local permanent staff, expatriate medical specialists in Thailand for a brief visit, and various other people with sufficient training and experience to help. Dr Cynthia’s clinic acts as the main medical care for huge numbers of people who can’t get “official” access to hospitals and the like easily.

The clinic is clean, organized (each patient has a number, pinned to them for easy identification for example), disciplined (each group of people waiting for a specialist had one or more orderlies explaining and organizing what was needed) and even had a small market selling food, mattresses and other necessities. As well as outpatient treatment, which includes minor operations, there is a small inpatient facility.

We were told that that morning one of the orderlies was upset because his father’s village was destroyed by the Burmese Army. His father was the pastor, and the village was burned. Later in the morning a group of Burmese soldiers was brought in, across the border (Dr Cynthia’s is on the main road between Mae Sot and “the bridge”). They were suffering from shrapnel wounds, probably from their own landmines.

The wounds were beyond the clinic’s abilities (they can’t yet deliver general anesthetics) so, happily for everyone’s peace of mind, the soldiers were moved on to the Mae Sot General Hospital.