Mae Tao Clinic Report

By Jerry Nelson

The Mae Tao Clinic with its Child Protection Department and Child Development Center is the oldest project of Chiang Mai International Rotary Club. Historically, we have organized awareness tours and have done fundraising on their behalf. Our tours have been expanded to include supporting organizations, to help people understand the situation along the Thai/Burma border. The challenge is to find a balance between the time available during a tour and the things to experience!

October brought an Amazing Tour!

On Wednesday, 16 October a van-load of great and caring people departed Chiang Mai to tour the Mae Tao Clinic and supporting organizations. On board were four Rotarians from CMICR, three of whom saw the clinic for the very first time. We also had one CMIRC alumni who is very involved with teaching migrant children, one amazing woman who has started a business with the aim of providing employment for those rescued from human trafficking and two members from the local Toastmasters club rounded out the group.

On Thursday morning we started at the old campus of Mae Tao Clinic. The first stop was The Committee for the Protection and Promotion of Child Rights (CPPCR). While they deal with some very serious child issues it’s always a pleasure to meet with Saw Aung So and his staff.

We learned they are instrumental in providing proper documentation to the Royal Thai Government to facilitate birth registration. They are part of a Child Protection Response Team, their Child Advocacy Officer is a Thai lady -- an amazing woman! There are six categories of abuse that they deal with: sexual; physical; emotional; exploitation; neglect, and other (includes accident, child marriage and more). Child beggars at the Thai border are an ongoing issue. Horrific cases were mentioned. The kindness shown to these children by CPPCR staff is a true blessing.

Our second stop was at the MTC Office of Burma Operations & Ethnic Health System Strengthening Group. EHSSG is comprised of several organizations including the Mae Tao Clinic, Backpack Health Worker Team and more. They team together to provide the best level of care possible depending on the level of armed conflict in the area.

Their target population is more than 830,000 people. They have 296 service sites in Myanmar. Their total caseload was reported as 288,203 in 2018. Many of the health issues are due to poor hygiene.

Health workers from ethnic and community-based organizations are attempting to work with government to address health policy, systems strengthening and delivery of health services. Peace building concepts and practices need to be an integral part of health policy and planning; this is critical to improve the lives of people inside Burma!