Barefoot Doctors Program

Overview

The Barefoot Doctors Program is an effective and tested means to provide health care for people in rural Burma (Myanmar). Our Barefoot Doctors trainees provide life-saving health care to regions of Burma where there is no other medical care. As leaders in their communities, these men and women from the countries’ most neglected regions: Kachin, Shan, Rakhine, and Chin states learn from medical professionals to diagnose and treat a variety of common tropical and majority world ailments. The program places significant emphasis on equipping leaders to empower their local communities in preventive medicine, living healthier life-styles, and multiplying the principles to whole villages.


Background

The name, “Barefoot Doctors”, comes from the 1930’s Rural Reconstruction Movement in China, which sought to fill the gap of needed medical workers in rural areas. Farmers, who often worked barefoot in their rice fields, received basic medical training to assist their villages. Likewise, FLC’s Barefoot Doctors are “tentmakers”; doing other vocations and offering their medical skills without charge.

FLC’s curriculum utilizes the renowned book, Where There Is No Doctor, training from Western medical professionals, and the whole person approach of Christian compassion with improved physical development of individuals and communities. All of the teachers pay their own way to Chiang Mai, and donate their services to train the Barefoot Doctors.


Details

To date, FLC has trained and equipped 136 Barefoot Doctor medical practitioners. 100 are still actively providing medical health care to their communities. Each graduating class consists of approximately 25 students who remain in the program for three years, and train in eight week segments for each of the three years. The most recent group of students began in 2014 and graduated in 2016. In 2017 we may conduct a refresher course in Burma, and begin with a new class of trainees in 2018.

The trainees learn pre- and post-natal care, baby delivery, wound treatment, instructing others with basic hygiene, detecting common diseases in the region (dysentery, malaria, and TB), safe administration of medications, and more. Overall, the program places a strong emphasis on preventing diseases and strengthening community health.

According to their own calculations, the previous twenty-six Barefoot Doctors trainees made over three thousand patient visits per year. Over the three decades of running the program, tens of thousands of people have received care any many lives saved because of the Barefoot Doctors’ work.

For more about the Barefoot Doctors Program, see 2012 , 2014, 2015, and 2016 updates from the coordinators of the program. Also, see the detailed report in the Frontier Messenger with stories from some of the Barefoot Doctor trainees. The Barefoot Doctors Blog is updated regularly by the program coordinators during training.

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