By Tiamkare Thitithamtada, IFRC

Sukmuang Tippadoe, 92, lives alone in his home in Huai Ping Village in Thailand’s northern province of Lamphun.

Apart from a recurring skin rash, he says he’s trying to stay healthy to avoid going to the doctors.

“The hospital is too far,” he says. His village is about four kilometers from the closest hospital. For Sukmuang, the commute seems almost impossible.

There are 1,186 people living in Huai Ping village. They are mostly of Karen ethnicity, a minority group mostly in the northern provinces of Thailand. Most of the villagers here are farmers, and about 17 percent of the population is aged over 60 years old. It’s not uncommon for them to suffer from upper respiratory tract infection.

The District Health Station makes monthly rounds of visit to the village to check on the community, especially to tend to bedridden patients and to conduct mosquito control.

But today it’s the visit from Thai Red Cross which is making Sukmuang happy.

Thai Red Cross has dispatched a team of four nurses to his village to provide health services and information. Sukmuang is among 68 village members who participate. They receive health consultations, basic treatment and medicine. With hygiene vital to prevent the spread of disease, there’s also a handwashing demonstration, which Sukmuang takes part in.

The Thai Red Cross Society launched its ambulance-based mobile health services, with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent (IFRC) in 2018. Its first visit was to Chiang Mai, one of the target provinces in northern Thailand.

The mobile clinic is designed to support communities which have limited access to basic health services. Each one-day visit offers health consultations, basic treatments, provision of medical supplies such as facemasks and basic medicines. The communities also receive health and hygiene promotion such as handwashing technique and basic healthcare knowledge such as how to make electrolyte drinks to prevent dehydration after diarrhea. The villagers also learn about how to prevent the spread of dengue and influenza.

Meanwhile at Huai Ping village, the mobile clinic team has a busy day. They’ve visited households with elderly residents, people with disabilities, as well as bedridden patients and provided information on how to take care of the elderly including physical therapies and treatment for bed sores.

As they say goodbye to Sukmuong and the villagers, the health team reflects on what’s been another big day – but a productive one – in providing basic health care to one of Thailand’s hardest-to-reach and most vulnerable groups.

Interviews conducted by Sirinphon Sujaduk, Village Health Volunteer.