Barefoot Doctors Training Program 2014
By: Rick Astone, MPT, Dean of the Barefoot Doctors Training Program 2014
It was another successful Barefoot Dr. training program in 2014. The Barefoot Dr. students have completed 180 hours of course work in preparation for providing primary village healthcare. This 6 week program was able to cover the entire book, Where There Is No Doctor, a week of CHE (Community Healthcare Education) training, and a wealth of additional knowledge from all the instructors. This was all after a week of Bible education prior to the medical program.
This year we had 21 students from 4 different regions of Myanmar (Kachin state, Shan State, Rakhine State, and Sagaing Division). They represented 8 different language groups (Lahu, Akha, Rawang, Wa, Myu, Ngo-Chang, Karen and Pa Oo). They underwent a lengthy and difficult process of travel and obtaining passports and visas in Yangon, in preparation for their journey to Thailand. Most of them are involved in some type of church ministry and evangelism. They are serving the Lord in the areas of Myanmar least touched by the Gospel and underserved medically. For example, Hkaw Taik, one of the barefoot doctors, is from Hpimaw a restricted area where foreigners are forbidden to travel.
Also, Zaw Oo belongs to the Wa tribe from Eastern Shan State. It is the source of half of Asia’s methamphetamine and heroin production. Many of the Wa are animists or spirit worshipers. Zaw Oo is the first Wa to ever attend the Barefoot Drs. training program.
In addition to medical skills the students attended night classes on how to use computers and the Internet. For many of the students it was the first time they had touched a computer, not to mention the Internet. As Burma develops, computer skills may prove to be just as life changing as the medical skills. The students also received a starter kit of medicine including many potentially life saving drugs.
Their medical kits contain 23 of what we believe to be the most needed medicines in their areas, medical equipment such as stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs, digital cameras and log books to record their work.
They also received many other useful devices for the treatment of their patients and a backpack to carry it all. We fully expect this group will save lives this first year. Not only by treating life threatening illness but also in knowing when to advise patients to make the long trek to the closest hospital and in preventative medicine. This program emphasized that in the long run, they will save many more lives by community healthcare development and preventative medicine than by simply treating those already sick.
We cannot wait to see them all again next year and hear their stories!
Putting this program on is a team effort and it would not be successful without all those who support it locally and globally. Our trainers came from all around the world including multiple areas of the USA, Canada, Thailand, India, and New Zealand! The financial and equipment donors are from hundreds of individuals, a handful of churches, and a few medical companies around the world. Of course, the students came from all across Burma in some of the most remote and underserved areas left on the planet. They included many different ethnic groups all working together for a greater good. Their Christian belief in God gives them incredible dedication and drive to do this important work often times at great sacrifice to themselves and their families in the form of time, travel, and physical effort.
The plans for the second year of this three-year program have already begun. A start date is set for mid January 2015. We hope to have enough funds to include the very necessary dental extraction training in the next class. Please pray for the success of the Barefoot Dr. students in the field and for next year’s program.
Thank you all for your support in so many different ways and may God Bless you.