De Lone Bo Village is a small farming community that faces a number of serious health threats. Just 97 families live here, but in the past year dengue fever has struck down six people and more than 20 children have suffered serious diarrhea.
With the nearest hospital around 15 miles away, community members used to rely on traditional medicine. Now Red Cross community health workers, trained at local hospitals, are stepping in to help.
Happy to learn
Kyaw Swe, 41, has lived in De Lone Bo his whole life. He is one of three Red Cross community health workers in this village.
He says: “I used to be a daily labourer, working to help lay roads, but now I have the responsibility of being a community health worker. I don’t like to travel too far away from the village. So now I work nearby, in farming.
“I didn’t have a lot of health knowledge before, so I was very happy to learn and I’m proud to share this information with my village. I learnt a lot about how to take care of pregnant women and small babies. I also learnt how important it is to keep your environment clean.”
Full of confidence
The intensive month-long training took place at Sagaing Hospital, but Kyaw Swe and his fellow trainees also attended real-life medical emergencies in local communities. He says: “Monday to Friday was in the classroom learning about dengue fever, malaria, diarrhea and natural disasters. Then every Saturday and Sunday we went to local villages.
“I was so happy and proud when I came back to my village. I had learnt so much in training and I wanted to share. Now I could give advice to my village – I was full of confidence.”
Kyaw Swe is constantly busy putting his training to good use. He says: “People come to me now if they have headaches or fevers. I give advice, medicine and check people’s blood pressure. It’s especially important to support pregnant women and if I can see there is a problem I contact the public health midwife and arrange transport to the hospital.
“I feel good when I can help like this. I want to work 24 hours. Every time, any time, I am ready. I am infinitely happier, knowing I am part of this.”