SMSV Thailand Mission Trip:
The SMSV Thailand Mission Trip ’19 took place from the 1st to the 10th December, where 15 of us from various years headed to Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand. As my first mission trip as a Medical Student, it was definitely rewarding to be able to utilise a little bit of what we’ve learnt and apply it in a setting where the ultimate goal was to help others. The organisation involved in this trip was ‘Where There Is No Doctor’, a medical social organisation that provides Medical support to the poor, underprivileged and marginalised hill tribe communities of Northern Thailand. It was essentially a one man show where we, Medical Students, followed Dr David to various hill tribe villages and assisted him in the clinics where he provides free medical care to these communities. In this particular year, we followed Dr David to one village, the Janu Village, where we set up base for the remainder of the trip.
The first day of the trip was largely spent travelling from Singapore to Chiang Rai, with a brief stopover in Bangkok. After arriving in Chiang Rai, we spent half the next day hiking up to Janu Village, where we settled in for a while before setting up the clinic.
There are 5 main stations in the clinic:
- Vitals – registration, history taking, vital signs (BP, PR, RR °C), physical examination (Cardio, Respi, GIT etc)
- Pharmacy – pack and dispense medications
- Injection/IV station – injections, set up IV drips and concurrently check their
- Lab station – blood sugar or urine tests
- Trauma station – suturing, cleaning and dressing any wounds.
As a first year, it was intimidating having little clinical experience yet having to do what seemed like a lot, but under the guidance and assurance of seniors, I as well as others were able to easily assimilate ourselves into the stations. There was a roster in place for stations, so each student (pre-clin/clin) was able to experience a little bit of each.
Our first day of clinic was predominantly catered towards the children at the nearby school and given that it was our first day, there was an air of excitement and bustle with all the children piling into the clinic ready to be examined and cared for. It was a little hard to communicate initially given the language barriers, however fortunately on this trip, we had two nurses travelling with us who taught us some of the local dialect which eased communication and helped to translate when needed. The remaining 2.5 days of clinic were spent seeing mainly the adult population of the village where we would see a variety of cases such as diabetes, kidney infections, anaemia, sciatica and so on. Overall, the trip was very hands-on, where a lot of clinical experience can be gained and it really gave insight on how we Medical Students can use our skills to help those who require it. Given that these villagers are marginalised, majority unlikely to have a Thai passport and hence have minimal access to healthcare, being able to be a part of this project/trip, enabled us to do the most that we could within our abilities to give them what they deserved: the basic human right to healthcare.
All our meals (vegetarian) were catered for by the villagers and were really delicious. And you could tell the community were all very grateful for us to be there and it just made the experience even more fruitful to be able to be of service and do what we could to make their lives a little better. The remainder of the trip was spent in Bangkok for our R n R, a much well-deserved break.