Borderless Dentists

International Dental Volunteers for Refugees from Myanmar (Burma), Asia

 

Background

International Volunteer by Dentists for Refugees in Myanmar, Asia; BORDERLESS DENTISTS | BackgroundAfter gaining independence as the Union of Burma in 1948, Myanmar (Burma) fell into a de-facto state of civil war the following year, when the Karen people's fight for independence began in earnest. In 1988, many refugees flowed across the Thai border due to an oppressive military regime. It is said that refugees numbered more than 150,000. Nine refugee camps were administered by the Thai government, and their total population in 2012 numbers approximately 140,000. In addition to people living at camps, there were many impoverished people and farmers living along the Thai and Myanmar (Burma) border who were forced into hard labor.

Currently, Myanmar (Burma) has garnered attention for beginning to democratize. People's concern is shifting from the areas along the national border to a focus on support for the whole of Myanmar (Burma). Closely associated with the advent of the severe global economic crisis, NGO support has decreased in border areas, including refugee camps. In fact, since the beginning of 2012, there has been a reduction in food distributed to the camps and the general situation has worsened. It is ironic that this kind of situation prevails along the border while Myanmar (Burma) continues to democratize.

Refugee Camps

>International Volunteer by Dentists for Refugees in Myanmar (Burma),Asia

>International Volunteer by Dentists for Refugees in Myanmar (Burma),Asia

The refugee camps are administered by the Thai government and people are not free to enter or leave at will. Those who enter the camps are supplied with food and a minimum level of other necessities, but they are not allowed to leave at will and cannot freely look for employment. Moreover, NGOs who provide assistance at the camps are not allowed to operate unless they gain permission from the Thai Ministry of Interior.
It has become possible for us to conduct dental treatments over and above tooth extraction, by partnering with the French organization, PU-AMI, which is already authorized by the Ministry of Interior to provide medical treatment to the three refugee camps.

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>International Volunteer by Dentists for Refugees in Myanmar (Burma),Asia





Medical Facilities Along The Border

>International Volunteer by Dentists for Refugees in Myanmar (Burma),Asia

>International Volunteer by Dentists for Refugees in Myanmar (Burma),Asia

The Mae Tao Clinic (MTC) was established in 1989 as a free treatment clinic for refugees. Since then, many patients from Myanmar (Burma) have come to depend on the clinic, and among them are patients who walk for several weeks to get there. Dental treatment began at MTC in 2001. At that time tooth extraction was carried out at the surgery department. Previously, a small number of pioneering dentists visited the Mae Tao Clinic as volunteers. From 2009, a Japanese dentist named Dr. Takayuki Abe (known as Taka) began to provide the clinic with dental devices and assisted with making dentures. From 2013 this cooperative framework will continue as a newly formed organization called “Borderless Dentists”. 

Currently, we mainly cooperate to train staff at the dental treatment. The volunteered trainees will get training opportunities for both basic and clinical dental treatments in a short period. Some will stay at MTC, some will go to the refugee camps, and some will return to the villages along the Thai-Myanmar border to be assigned for the dental treatment. Furthermore, we decided to support not only for MTC but also a small medical clinic at the border area. The long and wide border area needs more medical facilities.

In January 2016, the nineteen new dental medics had a completion ceremony. They received a dental training program at Mae Tao Clinic for two months. Right after learned the basic knowledge and techniques, they returned to clinics in their refugee camps and rural villages and started treating the patients.

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