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Mae Tao Clinic 20 Year Anniversary

Mae Tao Clinic 20 Year Anniversary

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Published by Michelle Katics
This is the 20 year anniversary book for Mae Tao Clinic (www.maetaoclinic.org), "From Rice Cooker to Autoclave".
This is the 20 year anniversary book for Mae Tao Clinic (www.maetaoclinic.org), "From Rice Cooker to Autoclave".

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Published by: Michelle Katics on Sep 12, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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“Mae Tao Clinic has successfully been
providing health services to the migrant
population which normally has poor ac-
cess to health care. We have been work-
ing and supporting each other to reduce
the health burden in the population since
the establishment of the clinic. The coop-
eration between the clinic and the Mae Sot
General Hospital has long been excel-

– Dr. Kanoknart Pisuttakoon , Director
Mae Sot Hospital

Since its beginnings in 1989, Mae
Tao Clinic has had a strong collabora-
tive relationship with Mae Sot Hospital
(MSH). Initially, the clinic was able to
do little more than dress minor wounds
and treat simple malaria and all severe
cases were referred to MSH for treat-
ment. Throughout the last 20 years,

MSH has continued to provide invalu-
able support to the clinic – not only
providing medical treatment and stan-
dardized records, but also training
staff, donating supplies, and aiding
with laboratory quality control.
The medical referral program that
started in 1989 was initiated and sup-
ported by Father Manat Supalak and
local Catholic Church organizations .
This included patient transfer and food
support. The most common referrals in
the beginning were severe malaria cas-
es which required transfusions. Today
the clinic is able to treat malaria cases,
although if the patients progress to re-
nal failure they are referred. These
days, there are still approximately 60
patient referral admissions per month

that go to MSH for a variety of treat-
ments, including various surgical pro-
cedures and caesarean delivery. For
each of those patients there might be
twenty hospital visits, so the referral
staff and Mae Sot Hospital can be very

In 1995, the clinic introduced a
blood transfusion program . MSH
helped with the development and nec-
essary training of staff, and also
screened the donor blood that was col-
lected by MTC, collected the blood of
some donors that the clinic arranged to
go directly to MSH, and even provided
blood if the clinic did not have enough.
The clinic stored blood at MSH from
1996 until 1998. Today the clinic re-
ceives enough blood donations, but

Water and Sanitation program in IDP area.


screening is still conducted by MSH,
with 1,696 donors screened in 2008.
1995 also saw the beginnings of mater-
nal and child health services at the
clinic. MSH began supporting these
services through the donation of vac-
cinations for children under five years
old, tetanus vaccinations for pregnant
women, and family planning supplies
such as Depo-Provera and birth control
pills; support which continues today.
Besides donating supplies and
equipment, MSH has also helped fa-
cilitate the ordering of equipment and
supplies through medical companies in
Bangkok, as the clinic originally did
not have the capacity to do this on its
own. Also in support of the new ma-
ternal and child health services, MSH
provided free referrals in 1996, includ-
ing treatment of pregnant women with
malaria, and tubal ligation surgery. As
the program, and thus the number and
types of referrals increased, the clinic
began paying for these referrals, but
MSH still allows case-by-case negotia-
tion, and at times provides discounted

In 1996, MSH invited clinic staff
to attend trainings in the Public Health
Communicable Disease program. To-
gether with the World Vision Founda-
tion, MSH organized the Meeting of
Organizations Working for Migrant
Workers in Mae Sot, in February 1998.
Even though there was no national pol-
icy for migrant health, the local health
organizations saw the need to have a
better-coordinated effort for providing
health care services to the migrant pop-
ulation. MTC was one of several at-
tending organizations. As a result of
this and subsequent meetings, work
began towards ensuring better commu-

nication between the groups through
regular information exchanges, and
improvement and standardization of
care being offered to the migrant com-
munity, through the development of
Vaccination Cards and Ante-Natal
Cards, as well as joint interventions by
the organizations.
Ultimately, this work led to the
introduction of the Migrant Health
Program by the Thai Ministry of Health
(MoH) in 2000. In response to this,
MTC appointed a Migrant Health Co-
ordinator to work with the MoH. This
resulted in an increase in out-reach ser-
vices for MTC, including HIV educa-
tion, and a School Health program. A
Traditional Midwife Training program
was started, which yielded a greatly
improved home-delivery service and
strengthened the emergency obstetric
referral system.

HIV is one example of a public
health issue best addressed by utilizing
partnerships. As discussed in greater
detail in the HIV chapter, MTC has
been working with MSH since 2001 in
the HIV area. In 2001, MTC joined as
a partner in the Perinatal HIV Preven-
tion trial. This subsequently developed
into the Preventing Mother to Child
Transmission (PMTCT) programme at
the conclusion of the trial. As part of
this program, the clinic conducts HIV
counselling and testing, and if the
mother tests positive she delivers her
baby at MSH, with all appropriate
medication for transmission prevention
supplied. Both MSH and MTC then
provide ongoing support until the baby
is 18 months, with support including
milk powder, psychosocial support,
and home-based care kits.
The Medical Waste Disposal
partnership between MTC and MSH
began in 2001. Previously the clinic
had buried placentas and discarded
blood at the back of the clinic property,
but with more and more patients the
clinic simply lacked the capacity to
continue this method of disposal. Now,
all needles, syringes, human tissues,
expired blood, and infected blood are
taken to MSH at 6:00 am every morn-
ing. In 2007 MTC began collaborating

with MSH in implementing expanded
access to Antiretroviral treatment14.
MTC provides the initial counselling
and testing service, and then if a patient
is identified as positive, the MSH can
provide ARV. The patient must meet a
list of criteria, with the clinic guaran-
teeing compliance. Patients who live
in Burma or don’t satisfy certain clini-
cal criteria do not enter the program,
which currently has 48 patients.
In response to research on post-
abortion services for migrant women,
conducted at both MTC and MSH, the
two health care facilities began work-
ing together on the Post-Abortion Care
Quality Improvement project, in coor-
dination with Darwin University, Aus-
tralia. Due to language and cultural
barriers it was decided that the clinic
would have three staff members work
at MSH to provide counselling and
education on abortions. Currently, any
Burmese women admitted to MSH for
post-abortion care, even when not re-
ferred by MTC, receive counselling
and follow-up care by MTC staff. Ser-
vices and procedures were also up-
graded at both facilities, with manual
vacuum aspirations introduced at
MSH, due to the fact that they are less
painful and incorporate less risk for pa-
tients (these have been conducted at
MTC since 2004).
Considering that MTC is not a le-
gally recognized establishment in
Thailand, the level of support it has re-
ceived from MSH and the MoH is re-
markable. The local support provides
a certain amount of stability, and thus
the ability to work effectively. The sup-
port goes beyond MTC, to include

14 Migrant Extension of Thailand’s National
Access to Antiretroviral Program for People Liv-
ing with HIV/AIDS – Extension (NAPHA)


many other health CBOs in the area,
allowing those organizations to pro-
vide greater community outreach ser-
vices. This support from the local Thai
community has helped strengthen part-
nerships between the local health orga-
nizations, and in particular, has resulted
in improved access to the Thai health

Inside Burma it is impossible to
form this type of relationship; CBOs
not sanctioned by the junta simply do
not exist, resulting in a major gap in
health services. When the junta intro-
duces a major health campaign, such as
the 3-Disease Fund, which provides
free medications for malaria, tubercu-
losis, and HIV, the campaign usually
only supports the medication but not
the social services (counselling) or di-
agnostic costs, such as diagnostic x-
rays, blood tests or sputum tests. Due
to the fact that these costs are not sup-
ported by the junta, the financial bur-
den falls on the patients. Further there
is no community support system for
these patients whereas in Thailand the
Thai Ministry of Health fosters social
support services delivery for these pa-
tients. Therefore, the vast majority of
the civilian population inside Burma
who cannot afford to cover these costs
goes untreated. Many of these untreat-

ed patients eventually arrive at Mae
Tao Clinic, adding to the already bur-
geoning caseload.
In Mae Sot, effective public-pri-
vate partnerships between Mae Tao
Clinic and Mae Sot Hospital, among
others, is in stark contrast to the situa-
tion in Burma and has allowed for
treatment for many patients unable to
access the Burmese public health care
system. MTC is able to support these
patients with counselling, testing, and
follow-up support while the MSH sup-
ports the medications; the two compli-
ment each other very well. Dr. Cynthia

sees the relationship between Mae Tao
Clinic and Mae Sot Hospital as a para-
digm, “This is a model for how a mi-
grant or vulnerable population can be
supported. This is the example of the
relationship that should exist between
the government and CBOs. It
improve[s] coordination and improve[s]
access to health care service.” Dr.
Cynthia hopes that the international
community will learn from this exam-
ple and that health practitioners are
able to glean a better understanding of
the role of CBOs and how to work ef-
fectively with them.

Mae Sot Hospital’s director and MTC staffs.



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