Our Actions

Project NamJai aims to make a positive difference in the lives of Laotians living in rural Laos, specifically in the aspects of health and healthcare. We intend to do so through our “LAOS” framework where we will go from understanding a problem to empowering the local Laotian community and building community capacity, so as to ensure a lasting improvement in the health and healthcare of the Laotians.

We targetted specific areas of the villagers’ life, via Health Needs Assessment (HNA), tackling cardiovascular disease-associated chronic conditions (CDACC) and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). Scroll below to see what we do in details to bring about better health to these villagers.

Health Needs Assessment

Health Needs Assessment (HNA) is a systematic method for reviewing the health issues faced by a population, leading to agreed priorities and resource allocation that will improve the health and reduce inequalities.

To start off, we conducted focused group discussions as well as door-to-door interviews to find out more about the specific health and healthcare needs of the villagers we are serving.

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Areas of concern reviewed:

  • Cardiovascular Disease-Associated Chronic Conditions (CDACC)

  • Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

  • Musculoskeletal ailments

  • Road Traffic Accidents (RTA)

  • Inappropriate medications use

  • Women’s Health

Tackling Cardiovascular Disease-Associated Chronic Conditions (CDACC)

CDACC are conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidaemia and stroke, which are related to diseases that afflict the cardiovascular system.

We conducted a health screening for all 4 villages we serve in May 2018 to investigate the prevalence of CDACC. Besides the health screening, we also administered a health questionnaire as part of our door-to-door interviews to ascertain the villagers’ knowledge with regards to CDACC. Through these, we found serious gaps in their knowledge of CDACCs which should be promptly addressed through suitable educational means.

KEY FINDINGS:

  • More than half of the total villagers screened had never gone for a CDACC screening before

  • More than 6 in 10 screened had abnormal screening results and could be diagnosed with a CDACC

  • Almost 9 in 10 of the survey respondents did not know what a stroke was

  • 3 in 4 of the survey respondents did not know what a heart attack was

  • 3 in 10 who were aware of strokes/heart attacks have misconceptions of symptoms (eg develop sudden memory loss) and treatment (eg going to a quiet place)

  • More than 9 in 10 who were unaware of strokes/heart attacks did not know what increases the chances of getting strokes/heart attacks

  • More than 3 in 4 would not know what to do if someone in the village suffered from a stroke/heart attack

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In December 2018, we plan to act on our screening and health questionnaire results in May. Thus, we intend to do follow-up for screening participants that were at risk of developing CDACC and their complications as well as education on CDACC to address the knowledge gaps.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

We observed that many villagers, especially children, drank from unclean water sources such as the river and rainwater that was collected in urns/pots. Most, if not all houses were not equipped with hand soap near sinks and many villagers do not practice washing their hands with soap after defecation, after farming, or before having their meals. In an interview with Phon Thong Medical Centre, we learnt that their top referral to the District Hospital involved severe stomachache, diarrhea and resultant dehydration.

what we did:

In dealing with the problems relating to WASH, we adopted a two-pronged approach:

  • Education

We decided to educate the village children on the “Hygiene” aspect of WASH, and see if they would pass this knowledge on to their parents and other adult villagers. We taught the children 2 components of basic hygiene: hand hygiene (WHO’s 7 steps of hand-washing) and dental hygiene (Colgate’s brushing guidelines). To do so, we used creative methods to engage them and help them to remember the steps such as singing the 7 steps of hand-washing in the tune of the Happy Birthday Song and peer teaching.

  • Enabling

In order to enable the children to practice their newly-learnt proper hand and dental hygiene in school, we built tippy-taps in schools to provide them with clean water and soap. We involved the school teachers and students in the maintenance of the tippy-taps for sustainability.

During our Dec 18 trip, we plan to assess the retention of hand and dental hygiene knowledge in the children we taught and also see whether the transfer of this knowledge from children to adults has successfully occurred.

In addition, we will be checking to see if our tippy-taps have been well maintained and utilised by the students and teachers.