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Pictures from Laos:

Attapeu and Health Survey (Nov. 2010) - ຮູບກ່ຽວກັບອັດຕະປຶແລະສຳຫຼວດສຸຂະພາບ (ເດືອນ11ປີ2010)

Mainstreet in Attapeu (13.11.2010)

This is the mainstreet in Attapeu. There are a number of small shops and supermarkets where we can find most of the things we need for the daily life. At the right side of this road is the open market with fresh vegetables and fruits. At the left side is the road that leads to my house. Even though Attapeu is the provincial capital, it is still a small and quiet city. But there are more and more big houses. Sometimes I wonder where the money comes from for building. The difference between poor and rich seems to become also here bigger and bigger.

Tempel (13.11.2010)

Buddhismus is also in Attapeu the main religion. There is one big tempel in the middle of the city and also here the monks are provided every morning with rice by the local population. But the futher one goes out of the town, the more the buddhism goes over into animism. Most of the time it is completely mixed up.

The market in Attapeu (13.11.2010)

This is the open market in Attapeu. Everyday there are from early morning until sundown people selling fresh vegetables, fruits, meat and fish. I like going there very much. The people are very friendly and not as much spoiled from the tourism as in other cities. Sometimes, wenn they notice that I speak Lao, they are so happy that they give me one or two tomatoes extra for free :-).

Papagai (13.11.2010)

Last week the kinds from the neighbours came to our house and brought me this beautiful bird. They had just caught it outisde. They are not very common any more in the free nature, but they are still there. The kids thought that I would keep it as apet, but I let it fly away after one day. I think the kids were quite disappointed. Protection of the environment and animals is still something more or less unkown here.

End of the rainy season (13.11.2010)

The rainy seasin is now about to end and 3 of our project villages are after 4 months now again accessible. But still the road has suffered a lot from the rain and some places are still muddy. The few first times we went again it was really difficult to pass in some places. Again and again we had to stop and think where to pass. And sometimes we had to collect and put first wood and stones in the deep mud before we could pass by car.

Wrench (13.11.2010)

This place here was for us (thanks to our good car) not really a problem, but the minibus did not manage to pass and was hence stucked in the mud. In such a situation there is nothing you can do with pushing or stones and wood. But our driver had a good idea: he used our wrench to pull out the minibus. I was a bit citical in the beginning, especially when our car was getting deeper and deeper in to the mud instead of pulling the other car out. But in the end it worked out well and the driver of the bus was more than happy.

Firewood (13.11.2010)

In the villages people are still using firewood for food preparation. Luckily there is still enough wood available in Laos, although the forest are becoming smaller and smaller. Usually it is the women and girls responsible for collecting the wood. It’s crazy how hard they can work! Most of the adults weigh themselves hardly more than 30-40 kg and then they carry 30 liters of water or these huge baskets with wood.

Toilets (13.11.2010)

This is one of our first selfmade latrines! In the beginning we had endless discussions about how to make them and what the population can contribute to it. But now it seems that we find a good solution for everyone. And for us it is really convenient when we come for health education. Because we don’t need to go to the forest anymore but have a toilet directly at the house!

Rainy season (13.11.2010)

During the rainy season it is not only difficult because of the road condition, but also because there is no house big enough for assembling the whole community and usually it rains more or less every evening and this is when we want to do the health education with the whole popluation. The only possibility is then to do it under one of the bigger houses. Fortunately most of the houses are build high enough so that it is possible to stand comfortably under them. The space is still limited, but it is better than nothing and gives kind of a comfortable atmosphere.

Health Survey (13.11.2010)

During the last weeks we started with a health survey. Health survey means, that we ask a certain percentage of all people in each village (between 20-40%, depending on the size of the village) about their health status, measure their height and weight, take a blood sample for the hemoglobin (anaemia) and a stool sample to check for intestinal parasites. In the beginning I was a bit afraid that many people might be afraid to cooperate, but on contrary, we were asked many times if we could not come again and check also the rest of the population.

Measuring height (13.11.2010)

Here we are measuring the height of the people. Our measuring board was ending at 1,70 m and I was wondering if this would be enough. But the tallest we found in these 5 first villages was 1,68 mm. This means that I am with my 1,70 m already kind of a giant here!

Anaemiaa (13.11.2010)

Here we are measuring the hemoglobin in the blood. Therefore we need to prick the finger and take with a small tube 2 drops of blood. Then the blood is put on a special filter paper and after 30 seconds the color of the blood on the filter paper is compared with the colors on a table. This method is not very exact but very simple and easy to understand for the popluation. The results were better than expected. Many cases with mild anaemia, but only few with moderate and 2 with severe anaemia.

Weighing (13.11.2010)

And finally the weight of everyone has to be taken. For children we are using this special hanging scale and for adults a normal scale. The results are sometimes astonishing. Many of the adults have a BMI (body mass index) of 14 or 15, most of them are under 18. In Europe this would be already seen as critical but here it is completly normal. Also among children we identified many with mild and moderate malnutrition. But fortunately severe malnutrition is rare.

Microscopy (13.11.2010)

Since most of the villages are to far from the laboratory in the hospital, we decided to take the laboratory to the village: 2 staff from the hospital and one solar microscope. Like that the people participating in the survey could bring the whole day their „fresh“ stool and it was then immediatly checked for parasites. The results are terrible: in average 73% of the popluation suffers from intestinal parasites, in some villages even up to 95%! We had planned to treat only those participating in the survey for identified parasites but we will have to change and to treat the whole popluation otherwise they will reinfect themselves immediatly. This means we need to treat around 3000 people. I don’t know yet if and how we will manage this...