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INSIDE THAILAND
Traveling Doctor Project for Free Medical Services in the Deep South

10 April 2015

Aware of the importance of public health services to improve local peoples living conditions in the deep South of Thailand, the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) Region 4 Forward has initiated a major development project, known as mo doen thao, or "Traveling Doctor.
 
The project has been carried out in the three southern border provinces of Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat since 2008, and it has proven very successful in promoting better understanding between local people and officials, in addition to easing a shortage of doctors.
 
In Yala province, the Yala 13 Special Task Force Unit has been assigned to operate the project. The Traveling Doctor project in Yala began in 2009 in Krong Pinang district, where a number of people have been facing health problems resulting from several factors. For instance, local residents have low education and income, with a lack of knowledge in disease prevention. Not many public health officials are operating in the area for fear of dangers from violent incidents that have continued since 2004.
 
At that time, there was no hospital in Krong Pinang district and it was not convenient for local residents to seek health services, as they had to travel elsewhere for medical treatment. (Now there is Krong Pinang Hospital, which opened its doors in May 2011.)
 
For this reason, the Yala 13 Special Task Force Unit established a small health center in front of the unit to provide the people with medical check-ups and services, as well as dental care. It comprises a doctor and army health personnel taking turns being on duty around the clock. On Fridays, they also join the Krong Pinang District Office in arranging a mobile medical team, traveling to various areas to offer health services for those living far from the Yala 13 Special Task Force Unit. So the Traveling Doctor project came into existence to handle this task.
 
Every Sunday, the doctor and health personnel from the Yala 13 Special Task Force Unit travel with medicine to provide health care and offer counseling services to the people in each of 23 villages in Krong Pinang district. Older persons who cannot travel a long way to receive medical treatment and poor families have greatly benefited from the project.
 
The mobile medical team will work with local leaders to survey the sickness situation in each locality. Then members of the team will travel on foot without weapons to meet local people. They knock at the doors of various houses to ask about the welfare of each family. A team of security guards will provide protection for both local people and officials.
 
An assessment of the Traveling Doctor project shows that the project has brought soldiers and local people closer together, thus reducing suspicion among them and leading to better understanding. Local people, in particular, have given good cooperation to officials and provided them with useful information to cope with unrest in the deep South.
Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department, Office of the Prime Minister
9 Rama VI Road, Bangkok 10400, Thailand

Fax : (+66) 2618 2358 E-mail : prforeign@prd.go.th
 
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