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Journals from Jan Term 2014 - NURS 398 Traditional and Modern Healthcare in SE Asia

2013-01-26 January 22,2013 Exploring Umphang's health system

       Today was our first morning in Umphang, Thailand, after the long, windy, 4-hour truck drive to get up here yesterday. We started the day off early at the local state-run hospital, called Umphang Hospital. This hospital has a total of just 60 beds, yet it sees close to an average of 250 patients every day (inpatients and outpatients). Many of these patients include Burmese refugees from the nearby refugee camp, members of the local hill tribes, and many other peoples who are labeled as essentially "non-Thai"citizens (this institution is not financially supported by the Thai government, hence these people are excluded from the Thai "gold card"health insurance system). It was heartwarming to see the small workforce of nurses and doctors who provide free care to the patients at Umphang Hospital, yet it was impossible to ignore the never-ending lines of sad faces and sick children waiting outside for their turn to receive care. That being said, I felt proud to make a personal donation, as well as one from our school, to the hospital before our group left.

     After the hospital visit, we paid a visit to the local malaria clinic and several students volunteered to have their blood tested for malaria (we were all clear!). It was good to see that the community in Umphang and the surrounding areas put forth excellent efforts in preventing the spread of malaria, as evidenced by a decrease in the cases the clinic sees on an annual basis. We stopped at a community clinic shortly after, which followed up with similar statistics and demographics reflecting a decrease in the annual cases of malaria seen within the region surrounding Umphang. The community clinic also focused on reducing child abuse, providing free healthcare/immunization clinics, reducing the number of unplanned pregnancies, and many other health issues that have come up in this region.
     It is my hope that the community clinic and the malaria clinic will be helpful in lowering the unproportionally high number of patients that are seen on a daily basis at the Umphang Hopsital. Aditionally, all of us students were inspired to come back and volunteer at the Umphang Hospital to further aid the people of Umphang who badly need medical attention;  of course, we may have to learn a new language or two first!
Leilani Speer 

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