Students' Take: The importance of chronic condition education

Project Kyannmar’s annual healthcare educational outreach in Myanmar makes a difference, one village at a time

By Caleb Ng Yong Jian, Class of 2023

Project Kyannmar – it means ‘health’ in Burmese – is led by LKCMedicine students seeking to make a difference in the lives of rural communities in Myanmar. We  focus on health education, especially chronic diseases and emergency medical conditions. We currently partner with YMCA, and hope to increase the awareness of the villagers regarding the chronic conditions they face, so that they will take steps to better manage these conditions.

On our last trip in July, we visited two villages and presented on the causes, symptoms and preventive measures of prevalent chronic conditions such as hypertension, chronic kidney disease and diabetes to the villagers, as well as conducted door-to-door visits. During these visits, we conducted a health survey and explained to the villagers about the various medical conditions they might have and advised them on changing to healthier lifestyle practices. We then gave a health booklet to each household, which included details on chronic diseases and their treatment and prevention. We realised that many had their conditions diagnosed, yet lacked the understanding of what caused their conditions and how to manage them, and a large proportion did not make any changes to their lifestyle, especially when it came to taking their medication. 

Taking a manual BP for a villager during the door-to-door visit in the villages

This trip was certainly an eye-opener, allowing a glimpse of healthcare in a developing world. It gave us the opportunity to interact with the villagers, and better appreciate the conditions they face, making us realise the importance of healthcare education. Without education, even with medical supplies and diagnosis of medical conditions, there is still a gap, for example in the area of medical compliance. With a poor understanding of the causes or symptoms of certain conditions, one cannot be expected to take preventive measures in terms of lifestyle changes for instance, or consult a doctor early. With education being our primary tool, we hope to give the villagers the means and knowledge to make informed decisions with regard to their health.