Dr Sasa visits UK – Update about HARTs Work in Chin State, Burma

July 31st, 2013

Dr Sasa visits UK – Update about HARTs Work in Chin State, Burma

Dr Sasa, the remarkable founder of Health & Hope, recently paid HART a visit.

Health & Hope was founded in 2009 and is based upon the simple concept of putting health care and development of remote villages into the hands of their inhabitants. Their vision is to see “villages that are healthy and thriving and self-developed”. Dr Sasa himself was born in one of the many remote villages of Chin State, which is as big as Wales and Northern Ireland together, but with a lot more mountains and rainforest. Over the past 50 years the state has been neglected by the Burmese Government so that very few villages have access to health care and only a small number of roads exist. Dr Sasa told us that it often takes around five days of walking to reach the nearest hospital.

Health & Hope educates one man and one woman from each of the surrounding villages, chosen by their own people, in basic health care. Their education takes around 7 months, at the end of which they are qualified health workers who can go back to their villages to treat their own people, and make medicine accessible for all. Health workers receive equipment and quarterly supplies of medicines. They are trained in diagnosis, hygiene, sanitation and disease prevention, as well as teaching and data collection, and attend an annual conference to refresh their skills.  It is quite exceptional that this rudimentary training can prevent 8 out of 10 unnecessary deaths.

Dr Sasa himself went to medical school in Armenia, paid for with the help of his whole village, and later with help from Prospect Burma. In Burma, the military regime restricted education, meaning that ethnic nationals could not attend university and at the time medical education was a lot cheaper in Armenia than in India or elsewhere. Sasa’s three brothers are currently also attending medical school abroad and will join him, as soon as they have finished their studies, in training the villagers in healthcare. Since 2009 they have seen 317 Community Health Workers graduate, with 300 new students starting in September! To develop the programme further, Health & Hope offers scholarships for motivated Chin college-level students, which receive support for studying English, Science and Maths. In return they promise to share their acquired knowledge with the villagers.

Dr Sasa also told HART about the food crisis in Chin State during his visit. According to him, an estimated 123.000 people face severe food shortage. The harvest of 2012 will run out long before the harvest of this year, expected to be in October. Changing weather patterns, lack of fertilizer, and lack of knowledge about agriculture have all contributed to the chronic food insecurity Burma has suffered from for around 20 years now. International aid has been slow to react and only little support has reached Chin State.

HART has supported Health & Hope since 2008 and is a conduit for funding.

 

To find out more about HART’s work in Burma click here.

Gesa is presently interning at HART during her break, having finished two years of law at Aberysthwyth University. Her particular interests include women's rights and human rights abuses more generally.


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