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The inauguration of a new joint Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) and Borderland Health Foundation (BHF) Building took place in Mae Ramat, Thailand, this week.

© SMRU/Borderland Health Foundation (BHF)

This joint venture was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Nuffield Department of Medicine and will provide quality health care to the marginalized populations living on both sides of the Thai-Myanmar border in the Mae Sot area, and Tak Province. SMRU delivers this through a unique combination of research and humanitarian services, with an emphasis on maternal-child health and infectious diseases.

The ceremony commenced with speeches by the deputy chief of the Tak Provincial Health Authority; Prof Chris Conlon, Head of NDM's Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health; Dr Julia Kemp from the Wellcome Trust; and Dr Supakit Sirilak, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Thai Ministry of Public Health. The building was then formally opened in a ribbon-cutting ceremony by Dr Supakit, Dr Kemp, Prof Gavin Screaton, Head of the Medical Sciences Division, and Prof François Nosten, the founding Director of both SMRU and BHF.

Amongst the delegates were Dr Suta  Pattarakijroongrueng, Director Mae Ra Mart Hospital; Mr Boonliem  Takham, Mae Ra Mart District Administration; Ms Amornrat Tatsanakit, Director Regional Medical Science Center 2 Phitsanulok, Dr Wittaya  Polseela and Dr Purichat Yingrangsan from Tak PHO, as well as representatives from local hospitals, community-based organisations and NGOs and the construction company.

SMRU provides logistical support and has laboratory facilities including a malaria lab, haematology lab, insectary, microbiology lab and freezer room. It provides community engagement, maternal and child health, malaria elimination task force and a tuberculosis programme to the over 130,000 Karen, Mon, Karenni ethnic minority groups living in a string of refugee camps along the Thai-Myanmar border.