An article from Voice of America, highlights some of the health issues Burmese refugees battle daily. A clinic in Mae Sot, on the Thai border, provides healthcare to over 110,000 refugees a year. Their biggest challenges include battling tuberculosis, HIV and AIDS. Unfortunately, Doctors Without Borders shut down its antiretroviral program as well as completely withdrawing from Thailand after 35 years of involvement. According to Voice of America, “the group said it was leaving after it failed to gain permission from Thai authorities to provide health care of undocumented migrants and “vulnerable populations” in Thailand”. Antiretroviral treatments are now spread thin among clinics as well as hospitals.
Because refugee populations are highly mobile, they are often very difficult to treat. According to the director of the Mae Two clinic in Mae Sot, Cynthia Muang, says that “HIV is still one of the big challenges because of the population mobility and vulnerability and economic opportunity”. Additionally, Muang explained that they have seen a rise in HIV cases in pregnant women. As well as HIV, psycho-social problems have become increasingly problematic for refugees “because people do not feel safe and they are traumatized”.
The clinic treats a significant number of children. A volunteer doctor, Mary Boullier, says that “families travel hazardous distances to ensure their children receive health care”. In addition to treating blood disorders, the clinic focuses treatment on respiratory infections, severe diarrhea, and vomiting.
Fortunately, the Burmese Women’s Union also provides healthcare for refugees. GlobeMed at Whitman is currently focused on a reproductive health program for women, including birth control and discussions about healthy sex. If you are interested in supporting our program visit our razoo page: http://www.razoo.com/GlobeMedatWhitman and donate today!
Corben, Rob. “Thai Clinic is One of the Few Health Care Options for Burmese Refugees.” Voice of America (20 December 2011). Voice of America News. 21 December 2011.