Located on the Thai side of the Thai-Myanmar border, the Mae Tao Clinic (MTC) provides critical healthcare services for Burmese refugees and migrant workers. Established in 1989 by Dr Cynthia Maung, after she fled the 1988 military crackdown on the student uprising, the Mae Tao Clinic provides healthcare for people seeking refuge from conflict and poverty in Myanmar. Starting as a one-doctor operation in a small house, the Mae Tao Clinic has grown to a facility which serves over 100,000 patients per year.

Since the beginning of the military coup on February 1 2021, the people of Myanmar have suffered increased violence, conflict and economic crisis. Over 1.5 million people have been internally displaced in their search for safety, and there are around 100,000 Myanmar refugees in Thailand. In this context, the Mae Tao Clinic remains a critical lifeline for border communities and refugees.

Staff from MTC attending traffic safety training.

Mae Tao Clinic’s services and program implementation has been hugely impacted by the health crisis of COVID-19 pandemic, and the humanitarian crisis caused by the military coup. In 2020 and 2021, they adapted their services to provide COVID-19 testing, treatment and isolation – at the peak of the pandemic they had 390 COVID positive patients at one time in treatment. They also had to review occupational health and safety protocols and introduce infection control measures to protect staff and other patients. Once the COVID vaccines were available, Mae Tao Clinic established a vaccination centre providing services for migrant workers and refugees in a safe, welcoming environment.

Since the military coup, MTC have seen an increase in both conflict related injuries (mostly due to land-mine explosions) and mosquito-borne diseases, owing to the large numbers of displaced people and camping on riverbanks.

Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA supports Mae Tao Clinic’s Occupational Health and Safety Program, which aims to improve the safety of workers at the clinic and improve the quality and safety of care provided.

Over the past year, project achievements include:

– Monthly Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) committee meetings conducted to discuss general safety updates and review action plans.

– Development of an OHS incident report form to strengthen the documentation and monitoring system for OHS incidents.

– Checking all fire extinguishers and replacing as necessary. Fire safety training, with support from the local fire department, was conducted for 29 people.

– Upgrading the stair roof of the community resource center and redoing the kitchen floor to prevent slip and trip hazards.

– Installation of traffic signs, traffic mirrors and speed bumps in the driveway to prevent accidents.

– Screening 121 new staff (6) and trainees (115) for Hepatitis B.

– All 348 MTC staff screened for COVID-19 weekly.

– Rollout of COVID-19 vaccination for staff with 98% of staff having received at least 3 doses.

– OHS marshals cut back trees to prevent building damage and electric shock in the rainy season, and conducted maintenance on the electricity system.

– Two-day emergency response and humanitarian principles workshop with a total of 43 participants.

– Provision of essential PPE and OHS supplies and equipment.

– Two student who graduated from migrant learning center supported to undertake the Bachelor of Public Health Program at Mae Fah Luang University, Thailand.

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