August 29th, 2017
Dr. Sasa Prevents Spread of Swine Flu
Dr. SaSa – which means ‘higher and higher’ – is our partner in Chin State, Myanmar and the visionary behind Health and Hope.
He joined us during our visit to Nagorno-Karabakh in early August 2017 where he was able to discuss the possibility of initiating a model of care for people with disabilities in Burma with Vardan Tadevosyan, the Director of The Lady Cox Rehabilitation Centre.
While together, we were also able to hear about his latest activities with Health and Hope which we have outlined below.
Prevention of H1N1 Virus
- In October 2016, Dr Sasa was offered medical equipment by the Department for International Development (DFID) which was leftover from the Ebola Crisis in Africa.
- 6 x 40ft containers arrived in Yangon in July 2017 which included drip tents, mattresses, food containers, rubber boots, gowns for patients and staff and around 350,000 surgical masks.
- In July 2017, 10 people admitted to Matupi hospital with respiratory distress which later was diagnosed as H1N1 virus, more commonly known as Swine Flu. More cases also diagnosed in Yangon.
- Panic spread amongst population as the news hits the media. Myanmar officials ask the World Health Organisation for support in preventing the virus spreading.
- Dr Sasa, upon hearing the news, begins to distribute the surgical masks to doctors, nurses and police offices in Matupi.
- Chief Minister of Chin State and Ministry of Health issue authorising letters to Health and Hope to distribute masks to towns and cities to contain and control the H1N1 virus.
- All masks are distributed throughout Chin and Rakhine states, the capital Naypaytaw and Yangon General Hospital.
- No new cases found in Chin State since the masks were distributed.
- In Yangon, 70 people have died from virus, 144 are hospitalised and another 300+ suspected.
“By redistributing almost half a million masks to the people, we defeat the fear and overcome the panic. At the same time we contain and control the virus, at least in Chin State and in Yangon. And this is the first time that Health and Hope Myanmar, which is a partner organisation of HART UK, has become nationally recognised.” Dr Sasa
Healthcare Boat Service
- Dr Sasa has made it easier to reach remote villages in Chin and Rakhine States by creating a healthcare boat service.
- Utilising training Community Health Workers (CHW) from his training programme in Lailenpi, he has created a new position called Area Coordinators (AC) who also manage the boat service.
- One AC is in charge of 10 villages and helps the villagers to reach CHWs or the hospital.
- In the Rakhine State, villagers are traditional believers and very superstitious. If a person dies or is sick, local boat owners would not allow them on their boats which is why the Health and Hope boat service is needed as H&H boats will transport people in need of treatment or dead bodies back to their own villages to be buried
- ACs are also in charge of redistributing food paid for by Health and Hope and was instrumental in the redistribution of surgical masks to prevent the H1N1 virus spreading. The boat service also gives Dr Sasa better access to the villages.
- 300 villages and over 500,000 people now have better access to medical services.
Scholarships for Chin State Students
- Health and Hope Myanmar are supporting 84 students from Chin State to study in China, Philippines, India and Ukraine.
- Students are learning a range of subjects including medicine, civil engineering, nursing and business management.
- The first students who benefitted from the scheme are graduating this year, with one student completing 9 years of medical school.
- The Myanmar Government make it very difficult for villagers to pass the national exam for 10th Grade as the curriculum is only taught in Burmese, not local languages. On average only 1 out of 100 students pass in Chin State compared to 45 out of 100 students in Yangon.
- There is no college after Grade 10 in Chin State so Dr Sasa selects students to live in Shillong, India where he and his wife are based, to study in secondary school. Currently there are 42 students with scholarships studying in secondary school with hopes to go to university and further their education.
- Students are expected to return to Chin State and help their people.
Rebuilding Lailenpi Training Centre
- In May 2017, the centre used to train and accommodate Community Health Workers in Lailenpi was destroyed by cyclone Mora. Read about this in our Summer Newsletter.
- Since then, the area has been cleared to start rebuilding two new buildings.
- The first building will be the trainee hall which can also be used by members of the community for meetings and activities. This will also contain the storage facility for equipment.
- The second building will be a two-story dormitory for participants which will house 40 students at a time.
- The new buildings will be made of bricks, cement, iron and corrugated iron so that they are cyclone and rain proof.
- Local people have done everything they can to clear the area, now waiting for non-local help i.e. workers who are able to produce cement, and enough funding to buy the materials needed.
- The estimated cost is £250,000 – £300,000, and they hope to be finished by March 2018 before the rainy season starts as this could damage any progress they have made.
If you’d like to support Dr. Sasas work, please make a donation to Health and Hope Myanmar here.
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