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Sophia Hla

Sophia Hla - 2017 Nominee
Position: Deputy Director ( Health Service )
Organization: Mae Tao Clinic
Current Location: Thailand, Southeast Asia
Grade 10 passed in refugee camp
Awards Received:
  • Award:
    Voice of Courage
    Awarding Organization:
    Women's Commision for Refugee Women and Children
    Date Awarded:
    May 21, 2005
Sophia has worked in RH for 20 years at the Mae Tao Clinic on the Thailand-Burma border. Now a post-conflict setting due to the Burma government cease-fire, she will guide the RH programs she has pioneered into a convergent health care system. – Tara Sullivan, KM Director at Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

I have been committed to family planning as an integral part of reproductive health for 20 years at Mae Tao Clinic. Refugee and IDP families need access to family planning services. MTC fills this gap in collaboration with grass-roots community organizations and has had extensive international support over the years. I have been project leader for several of these projects, including AMDD, RAISE, SPRINT.

I serve as Deputy Director and the lead person for Reproductive Health Services. It is my responsibility to assure high quality services are delivered at MTC and coordinate with partner organizations. Most recently we have begun meetings with the Myanmar Ministry of Health, Maternal Health division to discuss certification of our health workers and including MTC in the supply chain.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

I grew up in the refugee camp. I witnessed tragic circumstances of women who suffered grave consequences due to lack of health care. Unwanted pregnancies and septic abortions are major reasons for high maternal mortality. When I saw this situation I decided to change the situation. I came to Mae Tao clinic as a health worker and over time I took on more responsibility to develop the programs that are most useful. I believe family planning is the most effective way to improve the lives of women.

Give one or two examples of how you display leadership in your family planning work.:

For 20 years it was not possible to work with the Myanmar government. MTC served refugees and displaced persons from across the border. Now with the “Nation-wide Ceased Fire Agreement”, I am working with the Myanmar Ministry of Health to collaborate on a convergence approach to maternal and child health and family planning. As the lead person for Reproductive Health I also continue to coordinate with local Thai authorities and all the INGOs and community organizations.

If you are named a winner of 120 under 40, how will you use this new platform and the $1000 grant to advance your work? :

MTC provides long-acting reversible contraception. However, we have a shortage of skilled health workers to introduce the hormonal implant in rural health posts across the border. The Ministry of Health is willing to offer Train the Trainer (TOT) support for implant technique as well as materials. After TOT, we will arrange multiplier training in our appropriate districts.

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