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Funding crisis causes cuts at Mae Tao Clinic

Mae Tao Clinic, Mae Sot, Thailand.

The Mae Tao Clinic in the Thai border town of Mae Sot – for nearly three decades an essential provider of healthcare and treatment to refugees and migrants from Burma – has been forced to reduce spending by 20 percent due to funding cuts.

According to the clinic’s founder, Dr. Cynthia Maung, the budget for the facility has been slashed from the beginning of October.

“We have cut staff salaries, and cut back on other expenditures such as meals for inpatients and charges for transferring patients to hospitals,” said Dr. Cynthia. “Except in an emergency, we can no longer afford to transfer patients to Mae Sot hospital.”

She said the 20 percent cut would be in effect for at least the next three months.

Dr. Cynthia said the clinic was looking for additional funding sources to cover operational costs in 2018. Its main sponsor, USAID, will thereafter solely support humanitarian groups working inside Burma.

Based on the Thai side of the Burmese border, and Mae Tao Clinic employs about 480 staff, including health workers.

“If the funding situation gets better, we can reconsider our staff salaries,” said Dr. Cynthia.

Mae Tao Clinic receives about 200-300 outpatients every day, and 80 percent of its 140 beds for inpatients are occupied on a daily basis.

The clinic, established in 1989 by Dr Cynthia Maung, has grown from one small building to a healthcare centre that provides free medical services to around 150,000 displaced people from Burma every year.