Medical training under fire
Jamie Saben describes life at medical school on the Thai-Burma border
Imagine learning to practise medicine in one year in a language that you only partially understand. Picture returning to your jungle refugee camp, or perhaps the front line, where patients are looking to you for a cure.
These are the lives of Burmese refugee students. I spent three weeks with them in October 1999 during an elective at the Mae Tao clinic, a de facto medical school, whose creation was spurred by Burma's political turmoil.
In the summer of 1998, 60 students arrived at the Mae Tao clinic for intensive medical training. They came by foot, truck, or plane from the nine refugee camps scattered up and down the Thai-Burma border. A few trekked for days from their villages in Burma to be trained by Dr Cynthia Maung, who is widely known as a selfless doctor who is dedicated to helping her people.
Most of the journeys were sponsored by