In Late 2004, the Lao Rehabilitation Foundation proposed plans for the construction of a new Health Care Center in the village of Maknao where it acquired land for that purpose in July 2004. The land, conveniently located on the bank of the river in the center of the village was donated to the foundation by four local families. It is located adjacent to the village’s major temple and away from traffic (motorbikes, agricultural equipment and buffalos) of the main dirt road.
The Existing Medical Facility to be Replaced
Maknao Village is located on a dirt road on the bank of the Mekong River 15km South of Simmano Village and 13km North of Ban Don Village. Road 13 is accessible from Maknao by a dirt road at a distance of 7km. The new Health Care Center will be placed under the administrative jurisdiction of the Pargeum District Hospital located at 25km from there. Access to surrounding medical facilities is difficult, particularly during monsoon season. The primary source of income among villagers comes from rice farming. The average income per capita was estimated at less than $20.00 per year in July 2004.
Untill the construction of the new Health Care Center, there was only one old and inadequate dispensary staffed by one state-appointed nurse, leaving villagers to generally rely on traditional medicine for health care.
According to a recent study conducted in Paxe and Paksong Districts, 77% of the population is relying entirely on traditional medicine (87% medicinal plants, 8% sauna, 3.5% massage, 2.8% acupuncture, 16% other methods including shamanism).
The population of Maknao and surrounding areas is as follow:
Central (Maknao North, South, Fields, Machiong and the six closest neighboring villages) approximately 6,000 people. In addition, it is expected that neighboring villages of Don Kalum and Vangpho with a population of approximately 4,000 people will also use the new medical facility. Thus, the new Health Care Center will serve a population of nearly 10,000 people.
General statistics for the area (2004)
The Ministry of Health for the Province of Vientiane has agreed to provide a staff of 3 nurses, an intern medical doctor, a visiting dentist and a local herbalist and healer to run the new facility.
The new facility will provide room and equipment for general family practice, small emergencies, vaccinations, gynecology, pre and post natal care, dentistry and health education. In agreement with the Department of Health and under its supervision, it will be the first medical facility in Lao PDR to include traditional medicine in a Health Care Center.
Memorandum of Understanding regarding the construction of the Maknao Health Carer Center was signed by Dr. Inlavanh, Director of Vientiane Public Health, and Dr. Luc Janssens in January 2005.
The Construction of the Maknao Project
The woman who donated the land upon which the new Macknao Health Center was built poses in front of the newly opened facility. She is the daughter of the monk at the Maknao temple. She donated the first parcel of land and convinced owners of 3 adjacent parcels to follow suit. Consolidated, the 4 parcels became one. The ownership of the land went to Maknao Village, ownership of the building went to the Health Department.
Maknao Traditional Medecine
Traditional medicine is highly developed in Laos and the Ministry of Health endorses its integration into public health services. In addition to building the new Health Care Center and providing medical equipment, medicine and supplies, the Lao Rehabilitation Foundation is helping develop skills of local practitioners to produce traditional medicines for use at the Health Care Center. Presently, with the support of the foundation, about twenty medicinal plants are cultivated on a small plot adjacent to the Center and are provided free to villagers. The program is overseen by a state appointed doctor, under the supervision and guidance of the Ministry of Health.
Meeting with local herbalists – Preparation of the land
Pumping station in the Mekong River – Medicinal plants garden
Medicinal plants garden
Maknao Medical Equipment
In 2006 we delivered a variety of medical and dental equipment to the new Maknao clinic, including establishing and stocking a modern pharmacy.
_It is hoped that the monks of the Temple located next to the new facility will become actively involved in providing their expertise in traditional medicine while giving spiritual guidance.