FBR’s Jungle School of Medicine Kawthoolei (JSMK) operates a 14 month training course for health care workers in Karen State, Burma. The school and hospital/clinic started operations in 2011 and over the past 5 years has graduated more then 80 health workers, known as medics throughout Karen State. Trained medics function within FBR teams providing relief health care, and many go on to work in Karen Department of Health and Welfare (KDHW) clinics. Students are selected for the course by leaders from each district, and following graduation a small number remain at the campus for additional training. By the end of one year of training, medics are capable of diagnosing and managing the most important illnesses they will encounter.
JSMK’s curriculum is based upon managing ‘problems’ that villagers present with, such as cough, fever, diarrhea. Students learn to manage these problems by observing patient care rendered by staff and foreign doctors every day in the outpatient clinic and the hospital. In addition, afternoon teaching sessions introduce science, mathematics, English, anatomy, physical examination, and in-depth descriptions of problem management. As supervised students gradually take on more responsibility, opportunities for critical thinking are utilized by staff and foreign doctors. This approach permits students to imitate the diagnostic and treatment behavior of competent clinicians, and then back up that behavior with knowledge, understating and critical thinking. Learning to love and serve our patients and their families and villages is embodied in the culture of the school, its staff and practices.
JSMK provides a number of ancillary services including Ultrasonography, X-rays, simple laboratory testing (Hematocrit, Urinalysis, pregnancy testing, Blood typing and crossmatching, sedimentation rate and rapid diagnostic testing for Malaria, HIV, Hepatitis B) as well as microscopy for Malaria, Tuberculosis, White Cell count, and Gram Stain. Minor surgeries are performed on site, and a recently completed lab and minor surgery suite will augment the capacity of the school. Though basic in nature, these services exceed the those in other clinics within the region.
Thirteen villages within one day’s walk of JSMK send patients to the school for health care. JSMK students have vaccinated a total of 230 children in four of these villages. In 2015, 1,929 outpatients were treated, and 221 inpatients received care in the hospital.
JSMK has 12 staff members who are crucial to keeping the school operational and performing the primary tasks within the clinic, hospital, classrooms, and facilities. Many of these staff members have growing families, and a preschool has been started in 2015 to provide for their children’s education. Foreign doctors provide supervision and external expertise to improve the training and patient care.
“All a good ‘doc’ needs is competence, love, and supply” M Haigh