An exciting new year ahead helping our volunteers to prepare for the exciting new challenge of volunteering abroad. This month we take a look at a fascinating journey of one of our young volunteers in Myanmar. We have more details on our hot new destination for 2017 – the Kingdom of Tonga.
Happy reading and keep cool! Karin and Derek.
Myanmar – ‘An Amazing Volunteering Trip’
“It is an amazing volunteering trip!” These are the words of a young ophthalmology student, Vicky Wang, who had the privilege of joining DocTours in Myanmar with an Australian eye program run by Dr Geoff Cohn.
The team worked solidly for 20 days in December and through their Christmas break to restore sight to many people in a remote village not far from Mandalay.
The hours were long and the team worked daily (except Tuesday because it is a day off in Myanmar). The doctors started clinic at 8 am and then delivered classes to local practitioners to help build their skills during the afternoon and evenings.
Vicky found the accommodation, meals and working environment to be ‘a million times better than I expected’. She learnt a lot from two of the more senior doctors, not only clinic and eye knowledge, but also the volunteering spirit as this was such a rewarding, fulfilling experience. She described the journey as ‘unforgettable’ and was so grateful for the opportunity.
Myanmar (formerly Burma) is a country of over 60 million people and has one of the world’s highest published rates of blindness. Only 200 ophthalmologists service this population, which has a backlog of around 600,000 cataract operations. Less than half of the practicing ophthalmologists perform surgery, with the majority servicing only the two largest cities. As a further burden, the surgery is not free of charge at government hospitals.
Myanmar has one of the highest blindness prevalence rates in the world with 8.1% blindness in rural areas. Blindness is caused by cataracts (64%), glaucoma (17%), trachoma (4%) and other causes (15%). Myanmar has 40.4% low vision in rural areas of which 70% is due to cataracts.
What’s hot for 2017? The Kingdom of Tonga
This Clinic and Pharmacy is the only GP practice on the main island and is based in the capital city of Nukuálofa. The clinic is run on a not-for-profit basis and aims to provide high quality primary health care. Chronic diseases such as diabetes and ischaemic heart disease are major issues in Tonga and the clinic also sees many cases of dermatology. The clinic welcomes experienced GPs. Tonga is a friendly, safe, beautiful place to visit and take the family with you. With such limited primary medical care, you know you are able to make a difference. Contact us for more details.