BULLETIN

Update on Our Appeal on Behalf of Hard-Hit Mae Tao Clinic


Both Thailand and Burma are currently experiencing severe epidemics of COVID-19, driven especially by new variants including the highly transmissible delta variant. Tak Province of Thailand, bordering Burma, is currently seeing relatively high numbers of cases daily. The current wave of COVID-19 in Mae Sot began in late June.

Cases have continued to increase since then on a daily basis. On Friday, August 27th, there were 320 new cases diagnosed in Tak (nearly double what I reported for a similar day last month), with over 263 of those in Mae Sot (over 100 more than a similar day last month), home to the clinic, and nearby districts of Phop Phra, Mae Ramat, and Tha Song Yang. There has been a total of 9,735 cases reported in the province since April 1st, 2021. This is an astonishing increase of nearly 5000 cases since my report last month.

In order to quickly respond to the crisis, on June 28th, the Mae Tao Clinic became an official field hospital for the Mae Sot public health system, currently providing care for between 102 infected individuals deemed low risk for developing complications or severe disease (30 more than last month's report). While MTC staff members are responsible for providing daily care, they work in partnership with medical staff of the Mae Sot Hospital and other Thai public health entities, closely monitoring patients for evidence of clinical deterioration and facilitating timely referrals if necessary. Since the beginning of the current wave in Mae Sot, the Mae Tao Clinic has served approximately 558 patients with COVID-19 who were referred from Mae Sot Hospital, are staff from MTC and partner organizations or are residents of the surrounding communities.

Amazingly, despite the increased strain on the staff at MTC, they realized the need for non-COVID-19 relationed services for their client population, particularly for maternal and child health services. Thus, MTC made the decision to resume care for expectant migrant women, many of whom would otherwise face multiple challenges in accessing essential maternal and child healthcare, and they have been working to put in place strict COVID-19 guidelines and protocols to ensure this can be done safely. These services were resumed on 17 August. In addition, in order that interruptions to essential child preventive health care be minimized, immunizations for women and children were planned to be resumed on 30 August. This is an important development since children born at MTC receive a Thai birth certificate, entitling them to education and health care in Thailand, important rights that would otherwise be denied to stateless people.

The document goes on to list the types of items needed for those who wish to donate goods, bank accounts, and who to contact for additional information.

To provide perspective, in general, in Thailand once someone tests positive for Covid, even if they do not have symptoms, they are required to quarantine in a "field hospital" set up to manage patients who have low to medium symptoms. This is to prevent them from returning to their homes, usually crowded multi-generational households where they can infect the elderly. This explains why the "household contact" category had such a high infection rate; presumably it has a high proportion of older people.

However, the Thai government does not routinely provide much support such as food, toiletries, bedding, etc to field hospitals, especially those serving minorities, migrants and aliens. Thus Mae Tao Clinic very much needs our assistance at this time.

Recently, the Board of CMIRC voted to contribute 50,000 baht from the General Fund of the club to MTC and members have contributed 65,000. Thus, 115,000 baht has already been sent to MTC. Another 40,000 baht is promised from members and will be transferred as soon as it ar