Kazuo Shibata, Consul-General of Japan in Chiang Mai, and Dr. Prajin Laothiang, Director of Omkoi Hospital, jointly signed a funding contract for the project at the Consulate-General of Japan in Chiang Mai on August 17.
Omkoi district is a mountainous district and minorities such as the Karen, Mon and Lafu form the majority of its population, and their villages are scattered among mountains and valleys over wide areas. They live in a hard environment on poor hilly farmland, with no electricity, no telephone, no water supply, no toilet, intense heat in the summer and temperatures below five degrees in the winter.
As a result, people survive in extreme poverty and suffer from chronic malnutrition, diarrhea, food poisoning, parasitic diseases and malaria. Unfavorable geographical conditions and poor maintenance mean that many roads in these steep mountainous areas are muddy or blocked in the rainy season, impeding access to health care. It is impossible for many to receive adequate medical services.
Omkoi hospotal, which is the only government hospital in the district, covers 62,000 residents of 95 villages in six sub-districts and 243 settlements, and treats about 76,000 cases a year. Moreover, it provides humanitarian treatment regardless of the expense, because there are many stateless people. Indeed, for people living in such remote areas, it is not easy to access health and medical services. In order that more people can access the services, Omkoi hospital has provided regular mobile clinic services which include dentistry and prenatal checkups, targeting remote and mountainous villages. Moreover, the hospital also conducts referral services between village and hospital for people who cannot travel due to geographical and economical conditions. However, because there is no four wheel drive ambulance, only a pickup truck which has neither bed nor life support equipment can be used to transport patients. Therefore, many patients lose vital time in receiving medical treatment.
In response to a request from Omkoi hospital, the Government of Japan has decided to provide funds for a four wheel drive ambulance with life support equipment for Omkoi hospital. It is expected that patients will be provided with better prospects for recovery because of prompt treatment and transportation.
In Northern Thailand, the Government of Japan has supported a number of medical institutions tackling health and medical problems in mountainous areas. It is expected that this assistance for Omkoi hospital will strengthen the emergency transport system and health services in Omkoi district and neighboring areas, helping the health and medical services to reach all and reducing the regional disparity.
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