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Nang, 43 cares deeply for all eight of her children, but it was only recently that she was able to get them vaccinated as her home in the mountains is a two-hour drive to the nearest health centre.
Nang lives in Pha Oudom District in Laos. Like many people in her community, she works as a highland rice cultivation farmer. Although situated in breathtaking scenic mountains in north-western Laos, Nang’s community is located far away from quality health care.
It takes about two hours to drive to the closest health centre and about five hours to reach the district hospital. Making the trek along the treacherous, steep dirt roads has deterred many people in Nang’s community from seeking health care at the clinic or hospital. The journey is time consuming and dangerous.
To make matters worse, it is also very difficult to find transportation; sometimes, those who are ill must walk to the nearest clinic, which can take at least three hours. As a result, most sick people rely on traditional herbs and medicines from a local shaman for treatment. “Some [health] cases were cured by the traditional healer,” says Nang, “but many weren’t.”
To reach remote communities in Pha Oudom District in Laos, Plan International operates a Mobile Health Clinic which visits isolated villages in the district every three months. The clinic provides a variety of health services such as vaccinations for children under 5, antenatal and postnatal care for mothers and child development monitoring.
Staff from the mobile health clinic also spread awareness about good health practices and refer villagers to nearby health centres as required.
“We have noticed that the number of children falling ill from diseases like measles has reduced since the Mobile Clinic team started visiting our community. Last year, there were no cases of this disease,” explains Thongkham, a 52-year-old village chief.
Thus far, three of Nang’s children have received vaccinations from the mobile clinic team.
“Today, my youngest child received a vaccination and I was given advice about how to take care of my child when she has a fever. Now I know that I can consult with a trained village volunteer or call the staff at the health centre,” Nang says. “I am so happy to receive health care from the Mobile Clinic team and hope they will visit us more often.”