Press Releases

5th September 201525th Ilga Award for Public Service

Dr Cynthia Maung Awarded the 25th Ilga Award for Public Service, Seoul, Korea
On 5th of September 2015, the Ilga foundation presented the 25thIlga Award for Public Service to Dr, Cynthia Maung, the Director of Mae Tao Clinic. This award honours people from around the world who have dedicated themselves to building communities of love in order to better the lives of everybody. Dr. Cynthia Maung’s work serving migrants, refugees and IDPs on the Thai Burma Border is being recognised through this award, especially her work in health, child protection and education.
The Ilga Foundation was established by Ilga Kim Yong Ki, the founder of the Canaan Farmers School in Korea and was also a recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1966.
During her acceptance speech Dr Cynthia paid tribute to the youth and women of Burma, for their struggles in the movement for education reform, and emphasised the need for more women to be included in the peace process. She explained, “If we are to see peace prevail in my country it is vital that there is formal inclusion and empowerment of women and youth in the current peace process. I believe that is the only way to lasting peace.”
She told the audience in Korea that she was keen to learn more about Korea’s experience and skills in dealing with natural disasters, since the current flooding in Burma has shown that Burma is extremely poor at managing the increase in disaster incidents. She went on to explain that, “severe environmental degradation means that we can expect to see many more natural and manmade disasters with fatal consequences that will leave thousands of people without shelter and livelihoods. Burma really needs support from countries with expertise in how to mitigate the impact of disasters and what to do to prevent some of them. Burma can learn a lot from Korea, and it is not only the government that needs to be involved but also civil society and NGOs. As I understand it, collaboration is vital if we are really going to tackle current and future emergencies.”
During her trip to Korea, she is meeting with various students, activists and community groups and will be speaking about communities concerns relating to the peace process and the threat of refugee return. Concerns rooted in the ongoing conflict and displacement caused by land confiscation through development projects.
The work of ethnic health organisations will also be highlighted, to underline the vital role of community health workers in health service provision in rural and remote areas of Burma. The government of Burma is yet to recognise a formal role for these organisations whom have been providing primary health care services for the last 25 years.

Dr Cynthia Maung Receives Honorary Doctorate in Medicine from Ubon Ratchathani University, Thailand

18th December 2013

On the 18th December Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn presented Dr Cynthia Maung, Director of Mae Tao Clinic with an honorary doctorate in medicine from Ubon Ratchathani University (UBU). This is the first time that an academic institution in Thailand has provided such high recognition of the work of Dr Cynthia and her staff at Mae Tao Clinic. The award was given in recognition of Dr Cynthia’s work in taking care of refugees and displaced people affected by war and helping underprivileged patients in the midst of ethnic conflict.

Dr Cynthia was honoured to also have the opportunity to address the staff and faculty members on the 17th December and to provide an inspirational speech to new graduates on the 18th December.

Dr Cynthia pointed out the link between the work of Mae Tao Clinic and that of Ubon Ratchathani University, since both institutions work in border areas of Thailand with vulnerable and mobile populations from Burma and Laos. Both UBU and Mae Tao Clinic believe that training local people to work with their own communities is the best approach to public health. They are both also committed to supporting the work of the Thai government’s Border Health Master Plan, which promotes the provision of health care to all people living in Thailand, including migrants and ethnic people.

In her speech, Dr Cynthia urged graduating students to develop an approach to health that looks not just at the disease process and treatment but at all the underlying factors of the broader definition of health that is the social and economic aspects of health. Dr Cynthia highlighted the constant dilemma of working in a low resource setting, but emphasized her belief that: “Every patient should have the right to access health care and not have to remove their child from school, or go hungry or delay treatment due to structural barriers to health services, whether they be economic, social, or otherwise.”

She reflected on the current situation in Burma, explaining that although there have been some political shifts, “It remains a chronic health catastrophe.” Government health expenditure is just 3% of the country’s GDP compared to Thailand’s 12.7%. This has resulted in official health indicators in Burma, such as maternal mortality ratios and infant and child mortality rates, being amongst the worst in the region.

Dr Cynthia highlighted that the inspiration for her work has been the communities themselves. She explained that in times of government neglect and abuse, the communities work together for community health and education, developing local solutions and innovations in very challenging circumstances. “It is from this resiliency of communities that community leaders emerge. They learn to work together, share resources and develop strong supportive networks, developing innovative responses to truly provide public health.”

“Dr. Cynthiakah was nominated by the College of Medicine and Public Health to receive an honorary Doctorate degree in Medicine. The Ubon Ratchathani University Council have now approved the award to be presented to Dr Cynthiakah. Dr. Cynthiakah is an illustrious example of a medical doctor who has devoted her life to taking care of refugees and displaced people affected by war and ethnic conflict.  She has devoted herself to helping underprivileged patients with limited resources. She embodies the spirit of a true humanitarian. She is a role model for medical and public health professionals who bring benefits to the nation and to international communities” states Ubon Ratchathani University.


For more information, contact:

Naw Ghay Pho (Thai language): +66(0)800298297

Eh Thwa (English/Burmese languages): +66(0)810448521


Dr Cynthia Maung is the Director of Mae Tao Clinic in Mae Sot, Tak. For her work in health and human rights she has received multiple awards including the Sydney Peace Prize of Australia, The One Award of Hong Kong and the Ramon Magsaysay Award of the Philippines for Community Leadership.


Mae Tao Clinic was established in 1989 after the Burmese government crackdown on nationwide pro-democracy demonstrations across Burma. From a small 4-bed clinic in 1990 to the present time when there are over 140,000 patients visits per year with over 3,000 safe baby deliveries. Nowadays, Mae Tao Clinic is a comprehensive health centre, as well as a training centre which has trained thousands of health workers who have returned to Burma to work in rural and war affected areas of Eastern Burma. It also provides education and child protection to migrant children in the area.

Year Award Organization Country
2013 Sydney Peace Prize The Sydney Peace Foundation, The University of Sydney Australia
2013 The One International Humanatarium Award (One of four Candidate) Rotary International District 3450 Hong Kong
2012 National Endowment for Democracy’s 2012 Democracy Award National Endowment for Democracy United State
2011 Freedom to Create Freedom to Create Foundation Singapore
2009 Inspiration Model Award from ” KhonKhonKhon” Thai Television Program Thailand
2008 Catalonia International Prize along with Daw Aung San Su Kyi Catalonia’s State Govt. Spain
2008 Outstanding Award for Humanity on Earth (Nam Htam Nation Group Thailand
2007 Asia Human Rights and Democracy Award Taiwan Foundation for Human Rights and Democracy Taiwan
2007 World’s Children’s Prize for the Right of the Child Honorary Award Children’s World Foundation Sweden
2005 Nominated as part of the 1,000 Women Nobel Peace Prize Nomination (Gloal) The Nobel Peace Prize Switzerland
2005 Unsung Heroes of Compassion Award The Dalai Lama and Wisdom in Action United State
2005 The Eighth Global Concern for Human Life Award Taiwan
2005 Global Health Heroes Award Time Magazine’s November Article on 18 Hong Kong
2002 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership Ramon Magsaysay Foundation Philippine
2001 Foundation for Human Rights in Asia Special Award Japan Foundation for Human Rights and Democracy Japan
2001 Van HeuvenGoedhart Award Netherland Refugee Foundation Netherland
1999 Johnthan Mann Health and Human Rights Award Global Health Concil and Doctor’s of the World United State
1999 American Women’s Medical Association President’s Award American Women’s Medical Association United State
1999 John Humphrey Freedom Award along with Ko Min Ko Naing International Center for Human Rights for Democracy (ICHRD) Canada


MEDIA ADVISORY: Dr Cynthia to receive honorary doctoral degree in Medicine from Ubon Ratchathani University (UBU) in Thailand

13th December

On the 18th December 2013 at Ubon Ratchathani University (UBU), Dr Cynthia will be presented the honorary doctoral degree in Medicine by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. The award is given in recognition of Dr Cynthia’s work with Burmese refugees, migrants, and orphans at the Thai-Burmese Border.

Dr Cynthia Maung is the Director of Mae Tao Clinic in Mae Sot, Tak. For her work in health and human rights she has received multiple awards including the Sydney Peace Prize of Australia, The One Award of Hong Kong and the Ramon Magsaysay Award of the Philippines for Community Leadership.

Mae Tao Clinic was established in 1989 after the Burmese government crackdown on nationwide pro-democracy demonstrations across Burma. From a small 4-bed clinic in 1990 to the present time when there are over 140,000 patients visits per year with over 3,000 safe baby deliveries. Nowadays, Mae Tao Clinic is a comprehensive health centre, as well as a training centre which has trained thousands of health workers who have returned to Burma to work in rural and war affected areas of Eastern Burma. It also provides education and child protection to migrant children in the area.


What: Congratulation Party for Dr Cynthia Maung and awardees

Where: Ubon Ratchathani University, Ubon Ratchathani

When: 17th December, 4pm

Media may attend


What: Award given at Graduation Ceremony by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn

Where: Chalermprakiat 7th Anniversary Building, Ubon Ratchathani University, Ubon Ratchathani

When: 18th December, 9am

Due to security, this hall will be closed to media, but screen showing event will be available outside of hall


What: Dr Cynthia Maung addresses graduates from Ubon Rathchathani University

Where: Meeting Room 101, Faculty of Medicine and Public Health, Ubon Ratchathani University, Ubon Ratchathani

When: 18th December, 1pm

Media may attend


For more information:

Contact: Naw Ghay Pho (Thai language): +66(0)800298297

Eh Thwa (English/Burmese language): +66(0)810448521

Sydney Peace Prize winner Dr. Cynthia Maung urges Australia to reconsider funding cuts

6th November 2013   

This year’s Sydney Peace Prize recipient, Dr Cynthia Maung, is calling on the Australian government to reconsider its decision to cut support for community health care in Burma’s border conflict zones, as this will undermine the nascent peace process.

AusAID has recently made a decision to stop funding the Mae Tao Clinic, run by Dr. Cynthia on the Thai-Burma border, which provides essential healthcare to tens of thousands of displaced and vulnerable people each year, and is a vital training centre for community health workers throughout Burma’s ethnic border states.

The Mae Tao Clinic and its community health networks have provided the bulk of health services in eastern Burma’s conflict zones over the last two decades, delivering primary health care to a target population of over half a million people. Despite recent ceasefires in Burma’s ethnic  areas, militarization and human rights violations continue, and communities remain reliant on local networks for health care.

“Australia should be scaling up support for community health networks, rather than abandoning them,” said Dr. Cynthia. “Cutting vital health services to the ethnic peoples is not the way to build trust in Burma’s peace process.”

Union Aid Abroad APHEDA, the Mae Tao Clinic’s Australian partner, is dismayed with the withdrawal of funding to the clinic: “the funding directly assisted vulnerable communities with essential healthcare including maternal health, eye care, prosthetics for land mine victims, child health, vaccinations, HIV services and more” says Kate Lee, APHEDA’s executive officer. “It is not right to jeopardise these vital services at this time”

The Australian government has been a supporter of Mae Tao Clinic for many years. Just last year, Australian government support to Mae Tao Clinic directly benefitted 45,000 people, most of whom were women and children. Essential health services are not easily accessible in border areas of Burma and are unaffordable due to decades of neglect by the military dictatorship. While Burmese government health expenditure has risen marginally in the last year, it is still dwarfed by the military budget and is much lower than neighbouring country health budgets.

Dr Cynthia will be meeting with individuals from the Australian government during her trip to Australia in early November and is hoping for a positive funding outcome for the clinic and the people who need the clinic for vital and life saving health care.


Union Aid Abroad APHEDA, Executive Officer, Kate Lee 0420 293 083

To connect with Dr Cynthia please contact Zoe Bedford 0408 262 576.



Dr. Cynthia to accept the National Endowment for Democracy 2012 Democracy Award

20 September 2012

Dr. Cynthia Maung, Founder and Director of the Mae Tao Clinic in Mae Sot, Thailand, is one of the five individuals accepting this year’s Democracy Award, sponsored by the US-based foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

The award will honour the Democracy Movement of Burma and will be accepted by five key figures in the fight for democracy and human rights in the country: Dr. Cynthia Maung, Min Ko Naing, Hkun Htun Oo, Kyaw Thu and Aung Din.

The awards ceremony will be held in Washington D.C. on Thursday 20 September from 3:00 – 4:00 pm (EDT).

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will be in attendance and will address the award recipients and audience.

Mae Tao Clinic is honoured that Dr. Cynthia has been awarded this recognition of her work in providing crucial health care services and advocating for the rights of displaced people on the Thai-Burma border. The events in Washington this week are particularly significant for Dr. Cynthia as she has the chance to meet with US government officials and for the first time meet with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Hkun Htun Oo and Kyaw Thu. Mae Tao Clinic hopes that this week will be an opportunity to share experiences face-to-face with our fellow Burmese activists.

During her week in Washington, Dr. Cynthia will be raising her concerns regarding international attention turning from the humanitarian situation on the border towards the political changes in Rangoon and Naypyidaw, which have not yet resulted in any improvements in the lives of displaced people, especially in terms of health and education. Dr. Cynthia hopes that this award will be an opportunity to highlight the continuing human rights abuses and displacement that hundreds of thousands are facing in Burma’s ethnic areas and in particular in Kachin State.

The profiles of Dr. Cynthia’s fellow award honorees are as follows:

Min Ko Naing is a founding member of the 88 Generation Students Group, which played a key role in the 2007 Saffron Revolution. He rose to international prominence for his leadership role in the pro-democracy protests in 1988 (popularly known as the “8888 Uprising”), during which time he was chairman of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU).

Hkun Htun Oo is a leading politician from Burma’s Shan State and Chairman of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) party. Following the 8888 Uprising, he ran in the 1990 parliamentary elections as the head of the SNLD, which won 23 seats, the second most of any party after the National League for Democracy (NLD). After the military government annulled the results, Hkun Htun Oo continued to work for democratic change within the country, for which he was arrested in 2005 and given a 93-year prison term for treason, defamation, and inciting dissatisfaction toward the government. He was released from prison in a presidential amnesty on January 13, 2012.

Kyaw Thu is a two-time Myanmar Academy Award winning film director and actor, as well as founder and president of the Free Funeral Service Society (FFSS), which, since 2001, has provided free funeral services to more than 110,000 people across Burma. In addition, FFSS operates a free clinic for the poor, supports scholarships, organizes vocational and computer trainings, and helps to meet the health needs of former political prisoners. After his release, Kyaw Thu and FFSS played a vital role in rescue and fundraising efforts in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, which devastated Burma’s Irrawaddy delta and cost over 130,000 lives in May 2008.

Aung Din served over four years behind bars as a political prisoner in Burma after helping to organize the country’s nationwide pro-democracy uprising in 1988 as Vice-Chairperson of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU), the largest national student organization and outlawed by the regime. In 2003, he co-founded the Washington, DC-based U.S. Campaign for Burma (USCB), an umbrella group of Burmese dissidents in exile and American activists, where he now serves as executive director.

For more information, please contact:

Dr Cynthia Maung (USA from Sept 18 – 23): +1 240 370 5908 or

Eh Thwa (Thailand): +66 810448521

Mae Tao Clinic Issues Clarification of Position and Recent Meetings with the Myanmar Peace Team

18 September 2012
The Mae Tao Clinic has released a briefing paper today that provides further details about the recent meetings with the Myanmar Government Peace Team led by Minister U Aung Min. The paper clarifies Mae Tao Clinic’s position on continuing to provide crucial health services on the Thai-Burma border and identifies three key areas that the government must prioritize in order to begin addressing Burma’s current underfunded and highly centralized health system that is not able to meet people’s needs, especially in ethnic areas and displaced in Thailand.

“We want everyone to know that the Mae Tao Clinic is not going back to Burma until the Burmese Government’s health systems provide equitable primary health care services for all people regardless of their status. Our services are still very much needed along the border as the government has a long way to go to provide adequate health care to the people of Burma, especially those in ethnic areas,” said Dr. Cynthia Maung, founder of the Mae Tao Clinic.

The briefing paper from the clinic goes on to identify several key issues that Dr. Cynthia raised during the meetings with U Aung Min and the Myanmar Peace Team, including improving local cross border collaboration and referral system between the Mae Tao Clinic, the Myawaddy Hospital and the Mae Sot Hospital, developing solutions for addressing statelessness in children born on the Thai-Burma border to Burmese parents, and the need for accreditation and recognition of the skills of those working in health, education, community development and social work on the Thai-Burma border.

“The people from the government side who will join future meetings should have the relevant knowledge, experience and positions to be able to address these key issues in order to effectively collaborate. I hope that if the government wants to meet again, they will bring the right people so our conversations can have concrete outcomes towards improving health services along the border and inside Burma,” said Dr. Cynthia.

In it’s briefing paper, Mae Tao Clinic also gave additional necessary criteria that the government must follow in order to have official and productive future meetings, including establishing a clear agenda agreed upon in advance, holding meetings in a neutral location in Mae Sot, seeking permission for media coverage from the Mae Tao Clinic, involving appropriate participants able to address key priority issues, sharing information about all participants, their backgrounds and their roles, and seeking prior permission from Thai authorities.

“We welcome the government’s interest in meeting with us and discussing health services, but we want future meetings to be official and productive in beginning to address the longstanding problems the people of Burma have faced, especially relating to health care needs in ethnic areas that have suffered under decades of armed conflict,” said Dr. Cynthia.

The briefing can be downloaded here: Briefing Regarding Myanmar Peace Team’s Meetings with Mae Tao Clinic Team

For more information, please contact:

Dr Cynthia Maung (USA from Sept 18 – 23): +1 240 370 5908 or

Eh Thwa (Thailand): +66 810448521


MTC Statement on Current Reforms in Burma

Correction (8th June 2012): In the original 22 May press statement, we had originally stated, “Currently MTC caseload has increased consistently every year; between 2010 and 2011 there was still a 5% increase bringing our caseload up to 117,000.” The correct figure is in fact approximately 107,000. The discrepancy occurred when the data was first gathered, as the caseload data first included duplicates. The data has now been corrected and our records amended. We apologise for the miscommunication. 


22 May 2012

Mae Tao Clinic (MTC) is cautiously optimistic about the positive developments made by the Burmese government in the past year. While the political reforms and tentative ceasefire agreements bring a degree of hope, the chronic humanitarian crisis facing the ethnic displaced and rural populations has yet to be addressed. MTC urges that assistance to the border regions must continue until there are signs of real change.

No Signs of Change at Border Level
For MTC, we look forward to the day that our caseload begins to decline as the facilities at the nearby Burmese government run hospital in Myawaddy improve.  The MTC caseload has increased almost every year; in 2011 our caseload was approximately 107,000. In 2011, 3,000 babies were delivered at MTC, with only 1,200 born at Myawaddy Hospital. It will take time to strengthen the healthcare system and infrastructure, so that everyone can access affordable and quality health care services. However, increased caseloads at Myawaddy hospital and a reduction of cases at MTC and at the Thai government hospitals on the border would be a reasonable indicator of real change.

Another sign of change would be a decrease in the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border to seek protection and education in Thailand. Between 2010 and 2011, MTC saw a 30% increase in the number of unaccompanied children supported by us, bringing the total to almost 3,000. The majority of these children have been sent to Thailand to escape the effects of conflict and the risk of being recruited as child soldiers and labourers. Other push factors include a lack of education opportunities beyond grade 4 and a lack of means to pay for the cost of education fees in Burma. MTC hopes to see a shift in the border areas, with landmine clearances, genuine peace agreements and improved, affordable education systems so that children can remain in Burma with their parents.

Mae Tao Clinic’s Role During the Transition Period
Mae Tao Clinic will continue to provide vital services to displaced and vulnerable people from Burma. It is anticipated that need for MTC’s services will continue for many years for the following reasons:

  • Positive change occurring as a result of reforms in central Burma will take time to reach border populations. It will take many years to develop infrastructure and rebuild and rehabilitate communities long-affected by conflict.
  • As an organisation run and staffed by people from the same communities it serves, MTC has built trust amongst the ethnic and displaced communities. Until government-run facilities in Burma can build the same level of confidence with patients, people living near the border will continue to utilise MTC services.
  • Displaced people in Thailand remain cautious of the political developments in Burma; recent history has shown that ceasefires can be broken and reforms can be reversed.
  • Land confiscation as a result of economic development projects and resource extraction is continuing to displace ethnic populations and force people across the border. Until development in Burma is able to take place without displacing populations and causing other human rights abuses, the displaced will continue to seek security and stability in Thailand, as well as access services at MTC.

Nevertheless, Mae Tao Clinic has been hoping for, and anticipating, positive change in Burma for many years and views the current developments as an opportunity to reduce the need for its services in the long run, enabling it to focus on primary care, outreach, prevention and training. During the transition period, MTC will endeavour to identify opportunities for greater co-ordination with organisations working inside Burma, as well as engage with and support the development of the broader healthcare and child protection systems.

A more detailed briefing is available to download here

Contact: Dr Cynthia Maung