Rainy season is in full-swing in Thailand and Myanmar. For us living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, that means beautiful greenery everywhere around; rainy, lazy days and the occasional slippery roads. For people in remote areas of Karen State, it means heavy rain all day and no roads at all – just mud, rocks and full-raging rivers to go through.
We asked our freelance Karen videographer to visit the Rain Tree clinic and we were shocked to see the roads he had to take with our Physician Assistant students to get to the clinic. We were also amazed to see what the students have to do in order to refer a patient from the Rain Tree clinic to the T-RAD clinic during rainy season.
Rainy season also brings its fair share of diseases like malaria or dengue. Since July, the Rain Tree clinic has had numerous malaria cases and proper testing can help save lives. This is why Saw Thit, Year 4 Physician Assistant student working at the clinic, went to visit a local village whose people were showing symptoms of malaria. This village is a 5-hour walk away from the Rain Tree clinic and has no basic medical facilities or electricity. Most houses are very basic and do not have mattresses so people tend to sleep on the floor. At night time, the villagers light up a fire to see anything in the pitch-black jungle.
Saw Thit told us that one night the village leader sent a message to Raykaw (Medical Director) about a possible malaria outbreak. Raykaw assigned Saw Thit to go. He and a local malaria health worker went to the village and did 33 malaria tests using the RDT (rapid diagnostic test kits).
This is what providing Health for the Hidden looks like:
“I went there myself because I knew that this many patients would not able to walk 5 hours in the jungle to come to our clinic. I knew it was hard for family members or relatives to bring a patient this far. As soon as I heard about the outbreak, I wanted to help them, though I knew the trip was going to be hard for me too. There was no proper road leading to the village. I walked up and down in the mountainous forest for 5 long hours in the dark with my medical equipment until I reached the village.
I checked the patients’ vital signs, making sure about simple or severe malaria, based on symptoms and the results of their malaria test. I recorded the patient’s name, malaria results and went through their medical history. I checked for fever, jaundice on their conjunctiva (yellowing of eyes), gum bleeding and whether they had a swollen spleen. I gave tablets for those with positive malaria results after checking the weight of each patient. I observed all the patients, checking those who might have a high fever, and there were only three patients with high fever. I gave IV fluids to one of these patients because her body was showing signs of dehydration. I did not sleep that night. I took care of these three patients the whole night and stayed in the village for a couple more. On the third night, I traveled back and reached the Rain Tree clinic at 7:00 am.” – Saw Thit, Year 4 Physician Assistant student