Monday, January 16, 2012

Brief Overview of GHAP's Work in Thailand

The semi-annual GHAP training in Northern Thailand teaches trauma care to Burmese Karen medics, many of whom travel for days and across the border in order to attend.

The medics have a variety of experience: some have just started their medical training, while others have years of practice and have performed advanced trauma care in some of the most extreme jungle environments. Many of the medics are the only real trauma experts in their regions, and perform both combat medic services and serve as trauma surgeons in their communities.

While the fighting between Karen forces and the Burmese government wanes and waxes, there remain thousands of landmines and other unexploded ordinance strewn around Karen populations centers, and injuries remains common. As such, many of the medics, especially those in more remote provinces, are constantly on call, and must be skilled in everything from basic wound and burn care to fasciotomies and amputations.

GHAP, with its partner group AAI, aims to teach the medical skills necessary for Karen medics to operate independently and decrease mortality rates from survivable injuries . It further seeks to teach skills suited to the rough conditions in which the medics operate, and in ways through which the medics can pass on skills to those unable to attend the trainings.

The six-day training includes lessons in basic anatomy and wound care, to more advanced courses in intubation and airway management, orthopedic treatments, and amputations. All of the medical professions involved in the training volunteer their own time and receive no remuneration.

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