Antimalarial Drug Resistance

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July 16, 2011

It’s been three days since I’ve been back to the IRD office in Gnommalath town.  I’m sticky with dried sweat and still a little groggy from waking up at 5am after going to sleep after midnight.  But, we needed to have enough time to leave Talong village in Boulapa District and arrive in Hainoua village, Mahaxay District, before everyone went to the fields for the day. READ MORE

Checking First Aid Kits

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July 14, 2011

The chief’s wife in Pah Panang village, Boualapa districtm clears away the dishes from dinner- steamed fish, fish soup, and sticky rice.  Night has fallen while were eating, and community members have quietly slipped in during the meal to join us on the floor.  Soukasien, the IRD Health Officer, and I are here to assess a small first aid program.

A little over a year ago, remote communities with limited access to even their local health clinic were chosen from the 150 communities that IRD currently serves.  A volunteer within each community was identified, provided a large first aid kit, and given a three day training to learn how to diagnose and treat common illnesses and injuries.  While the community volunteer was, of course, free to treat other community members, the priority was providing basic care to children attending school. READ MORE

Better Vision for Better Life

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June 1, 2011

During a training of district level health and education administrators in Thakek, Khammoune province, Dr. Sambath Darasouk, the province’s only opthamologist, explains the two visual acuity charts used for eye health screening.

Once again Peggy Jean and I were attending a training session for the Better Vision for Better Life (BVBL) project. Overall, the project has met a need for eye screening and care at the village level in Khammoune province, as well as built capacity for screening from the teachers and village health workers (VHWs) at the community level all the way up to administrators at the district level. Also, the project provided needed ophthalmology equipment at the provincial level.

At the beginning of the week, we made it for the second, and last, day of a refresher course for clinicians working at health centers in Xiaboutong district. After over an hour on a dirt road, we arrived at the rather impressive district office where the training was held. Over thirty men and women filled the front of a large conference hall. All were prepared for the last few hours of the program with IRD-produced eye health manuals and paper and pen ready to jot down important notes. All participants were quietly attentive, listening as Dr. Sambath Darasouk, the only ophthalmologist for Khammoune province, reviewed common eye diseases. READ MORE

Community Health Laos

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May 26, 2011

The IRD Health Promotion Coordinator, Nouhak, begins the first community health education meeting in Dong Na Kham village, Xiaboutong district. The table in front of her is loaded with health promotion posters and prizes of toothbrushes, sponges, and soap.

For the last hour or so, we’ve bounced along the pitted dirt road, not touched by the thick humidity outside our heavily air-conditioned IRD vehicle. We’re on our way back from Dong Na Kham village, a small community of only 30 or so households about 80km from the field office in Gnomalat. Today was the first community health promotion meeting in this village. Although we left the office a little after 2pm, the meeting didn’t start until dusk around 6pm. It was enough time to allow men to finish in the fields and children to gather, as IRD staff connected the projector and speakers to the generator. While waiting for the rest of the community to gather, the health officer set up health education posters along the edge of the clearing to introduce the topics to be covered: hygiene, sanitation, and nutrition. As soon as each new poster went up, children eagerly crowded around. It was exciting to see the children’s interest. READ MORE