The clinic is located in a very friendly local community where the majority of people are farmers and have had very tough, physical lives in a challenging climate. Whilst healthcare provision has improved enormously in Thailand over the last 20 years, there is still a huge amount of education to be done in certain areas and the clinic work very hard not only to treat illnesses and ailments but also to encourage the villagers and surrounding small communities to be pro-active in looking after their health.
Serving a community of around 10,000 people the clinic is based in a village around 30 minutes from Surin town and it acts very much as the first port of call to villagers with medical issues ranging from relatively minor cuts and illnesses to more serious conditions such as diabetes, viruses and long term stress and hypertension.
Your role at the clinic will vary tremendously depending on your skills and experience and the ailments being treated by the staff when you are there. All your work is directed by the professional Thai staff at the clinic and whilst they enjoy greatly the support and commitment from volunteers, they do understandably request that you show high levels of cultural understanding and respect the fact that they are fully qualified under the Thai Healthcare system.
You may well find that the way in which conditions are treated are, from time to time, different that how you may be used to in your own country, but this is a great opportunity to learn and support rather than to seek to change or criticise the local methods used.
The clinic does also have a small section devoted to more traditional Thai healing herbal remedies which you may find very interesting – Thailand is developing quickly and whilst modern health care provision can be very good, communities and medical staff still utilise some more traditional herbals methods which have proved their benefits over generations.
Surin is a typical, vibrant Thai town and whilst not as developed as many Western towns it is packed with character and charm. The people are friendly, the food is tasty, spicy, and cheap; and spending time here will be an unforgettable and authentic Thai experience!
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What is involved
Volunteers have been learning and assisting at this small rural medical clinic for several years and both the clinic and the visitors have found the experience to be mutually beneficial – with volunteers supporting the small medical team with the regular duties and the volunteers learning about the challenges and differences of healthcare provision in rural Thailand.
The clinic runs several core health programmes and initiatives throughout each year and the precise activities you can observe and become involved in of course are driven and set by the clinic itself. Please be understanding about this – the clinic is a fully operational healthcare centre set up and run for the benefit of the villagers and their needs rather than those of the staff or volunteers.
Whilst the duties that you are able to assist with will depend very much on your training and skills, and the judgement of the local professional medical staff (who of course have the last say over everything anyone does at the clinic) examples of the activities you can expect to be a part of during your time include:
- Conducting general health checks with villages including the on-going recording of weight, height and waist measurements.
- Participating in regular hypertension clinics
- Participating in regular diabetes clinics
- Learning about the villagers health challenges and efforts to ensure that the community takes responsibility for remaining fit and healthy – common areas focused on include prevention of Dengue fever, issues around planned pregnancy and birth control etc
- Joining the Thai medical staff on home visits
- Child development assessment clinics
- The treatment and dressing of wounds, sutures etc
- Assisting the local team with the diagnosis of medical conditions (subject of course to your training and skills)
- Packing and distributing medications and medical materials
You can expect to leave Surin town around 8 each morning (sometimes earlier depending on the activities that day at the clinic) and return home between 2:30 and 4:30 pm each day – depending again on how busy the clinic is and what work is being done that day. Whilst it can be tiring working in the hot and often humid climate, there is plenty of time at the end of each day to rest up, meet others participating in other programmes based in Surin and, of course, explore the town and local area.
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