Elective experience: the Thai-Burmese border
James Harper shares his experience of working in a medical clinic in this politically charged area
- By: James Harper
After a two day journey from Kuala Lumpur by train and minibus I arrived in Mae Sot in the north west of the country, on the Thai-Burmese border. The town has one government and one private hospital, but I was here to work in what has become known as “Dr Cynthia's Clinic.” Though anyone can turn up at the clinic, it was established to provide medical treatment to the local Karen-Burmese families and migrant workers who cross every day into Thailand.
Currently it is divided into the departments of obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatric outpatients, trauma/surgery, a medical ward, and general medical outpatients, each situated in its own concrete and corrugated iron hut. These are staffed by “Medics,” Burmese teenagers who have received approximately two years' paramedical training at the clinic and have chosen to remain here rather than return to their home as a “jungle medic.” Supervising them while I