Eye Surgery

British ophthalmologists, Dr Frank Green and Dr Phillip Ambler first visited the border area in 1990 and began to provide Eye Care to the mainly Karen population in the part of Burma they controlled at that time.

In 1995 after the Karen held territory was overrun by Burmese troops the centre of care was moved to Mae Sot and to the rapidly developing refugee camps located along the Thai/Burma border. At the same time the team was joined by technician/ manager Tom Scott and later Prof. John Forrester.

A close relationship was established with optometrist Jerry Vincent, employed by the International Rescue Committee, who instituted eye care training for the local medics at all the refugee camps.

Over the years the team increased the number of visits to the border area to four times a year to carry out surgery. Equipment including a microscope, scanners and a slit lamp have been purchased by Karenaid.

The main base for the eyework is at Dr Cynthia's Mae Tao clinic in Mae Sot. Migrant Burmese workers from the Mae Sot area have easy access to this clinic but in addition increasing numbers of patients travel from Burma itself to the clinic. A survey conducted recently indicated the main reasons for people travelling to the clinic were the limited, expensive and unreliable treatment available locally.

In addition to the work at Mae Tao clinic regular visits are made to 8 refugee camps along the border. The operating equipment is portable so surgery can be carried at all these locations.

A donated auto-refractor now enables ancillary staff to check patients after surgery providing regular audit of the outcomes of surgery.

Within the last year we have been given a new microscope with a video screen that allows training of a junior surgeon and other staff.

From April 2011 Frank Green, recently retired from his post in the UK has been able to spend 35 weeks per year on the border, based at Mae Tao Clinic in Mae Sot providing a consequently enhanced service.

The most commonly performed operation is for cataract. Other procedures include treatment for closed angle glaucoma, pterygium and trauma.

• Approximately 1500 operations are performed annually on needy, displaced people.

• A surgeon performing a cataract operation requires instruments, a specialist microscope, consumables and a new lens.

• A cataract extraction with a new lens and consumables costs around £20 per case.

• The surgeons give their time free of charge.

• The sister project (Border Eye Care funded by International Rescue committee) provides training and employment to local nurses and technicians. These local workers care for the basic eye needs of the displaced people along the border, including the provision of eye glasses. They are also vital in the identification of patients who will benefit from surgery.



Mae Sot Area

AIDS/HIV and Rice Delivery

HIV can be treated, lives prolonged and patients can return to work; however the drugs cost money and displaced people living on the Thai Burmese border are usually unable to afford them. They are often living in very poor conditions and their health is at risk.

Dr Elisabetta and Dr Jonathan run a small primary health programme for Karen and Burmese families of migrant workers living and working in the fields around Mae Sot and in villages along the border. Together with their local team they are able to diagnose and treat most of the common diseases, but HIV treatment is very costly. With funds provided by Karenaid, they are able to take some patients with HIV/AIDS to the outpatient HIV clinic of Mae Sot hospital, the only provider in town of Anti Retro Viral drugs, and pay for the cost of the drugs and also for blood tests and the investigations necessary.

This remains a relatively small scale project run with minimal personnel but Dr Elisabetta and Dr Jonathan's personal supervision, education and support ensure that the treatment is put to best use, and is well accounted for. Dr Phillip Ambler met with them and Max & Fiona Derrick met with Dr Jonathan in February 2011 to discuss their programme and were encouraged by the work being done.

40kg Rice sacks are distributed monthly to Karen families who are undernourished and with health problems. These visits enable Dr. Jonathan to visit each patient and check their health status and treat accordingly- similar to a local GP where clinics are not available. Also, HIV men's health centre is regularly visited and the men with HIV and/or Leprosy and/or TB are checked and given treatment as required. Vitamin A, B1 and Iron supplements are given to build up the families to make them stronger and enabling them to maintain better health.

Dr Elisabetta and Dr Jonathan's programme is funded by several small Italian, Australian and English donors and ILEP for the leprosy component of Dr Jonathan's work. Karenaid helps them with rice distribution for families at risk of malnutrition and with support to buy ARV drugs for a limited number of patients.

Kwai River Christian Hospital (KRCH)

Lab Workers

Lab workers

Operating Theatre

Operating Theatre




KRCH is located 12km from the Thai-Burma border and 16km from the town of Sangklaburi, in Kanchanburi province, Western Thailand. 

Since its inception in a room of the first Doctor's house in 1960, the hospital's aim has been to offer high quality medical care and to present the Gospel to a marginalised, poor and neglected community, in an area where the majority of the population have no nationality or registration papers and are therefore not eligible to use government health services. The surrounding area is moderately hilly with rice fields and small towns. Within a ten kilometre radius of the hospital are ten villages, comprising a total population of around 15,000 people.

KRCH is a 45 bed rural hospital with busy outpatients and inpatients departments and a public health unit, which treats each patient as an individual without bias towards their religion, nationality, race, gender or wealth. It has a surgical unit, and deals with obstetrics and trauma. It also has clinics caring for those with TB, HIV/Aids, a well baby clinic and antenatal and postnatal care.

It is a collaborative work between several foreign mission boards and the Church of Christ in Thailand.

Karenaid supports a screening programme for older people from Sangklaburi Christian Church for treatable diseases common in old age such as glaucoma, cataracts, high blood pressure and diabetes. The costs of physical examinations and medication are financially assisted by Karenaid.  Karenaid can also help with equipment costs.  In 2011 it was able to fund the purchase of two new microscopes for the laboratory.