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Laos: Mobile Clinic Treats Survivors ...
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
21 Jun 2016

COPE (Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise) is a non-profit organization that supports the Ministry of Health’s Center for Medical Rehabilitation (CMR) in Laos. COPE provides technical training for CMR prosthetists, orthotists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists. COPE and CMR work together to ensure comprehensive rehabilitation services for unexploded ordnance (UXO) survivors and other people with disabilities throughout Laos.

Laos is, per capita, the most heavily bombed country in the world and Xieng Khouang Province is the most heavily bombed province in Laos.

In the wake of the United States’ reaffirmation that it will provide further assistance for UXO clearance in Laos and before President Obama’s scheduled visit to Laos in September this year, I decided to take a closer look at the treatment of those injured by UXOs in Laos. In May and June 2016, I accompanied COPE during a mobile clinic that travelled to remote areas of Xieng Khouang Province, in Lao PDR.

Although COPE covers all the patients’ expenses to access physical rehabilitation services, difficult road conditions, family responsibilities, and fear about traveling far from the familiarity of home prevent many people with physical disabilities in Laos from seeking treatment. Acknowledging the existence of these barriers, COPE and the CMR are piloting mobile clinics. These clinics are sponsored by USAID and also supported by the government of Canada.

Cope’s mobile clinics enable people with disabilities to get the services they need. Lack of access can make a manageable health problem turn into serious disability. Difficulty accessing quality healthcare remains a recurring problem for most Lao people living in rural areas. Frequently, a simple treatment can have a big impact on a patient’s life, especially in underserved rural areas.

In May and June 2016, the mobile clinic treated more than 100 patients.

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Laos mobile clinic 27
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
04 Jun 2016

A typically busy morning during the Xieng Khouang mobile clinic

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Laos mobile clinic 28
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
04 Jun 2016

The team advises a young couple about treatment for their baby’s scoliosis. They also referred the family to a plastic surgeon so that the baby’s cleft lip and palate can be corrected.

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Laos mobile clinic 29
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
04 Jun 2016

A medical technician takes measurements, so that he can begin making prosthesis for a patient

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Laos mobile clinic 30
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
04 Jun 2016

The doctor fills in a chart for a little boy with clubfeet.

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Laos mobile clinic 31
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
04 Jun 2016

The casts that will be used to make leg braces for a little boy with clubfeet

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Laos mobile clinic 32
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
04 Jun 2016

Wiak, 13, having his bandages changed a few days after suffering terrible injuries to his left hand and losing part of his right index finger and thumb to a UXO explosion on his family’s farm

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Laos mobile clinic 37
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
04 Jun 2016

Three siblings with fused fingers. They will have surgery to have their fingers separated. The high incidence of congenital anomalies in Laos is probably due to the more than half a million gallons of Agent Orange that were sprayed on Laos during the Vietnam War.

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Laos mobile clinic 38
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
04 Jun 2016

The orthopedic compensation shoes that will help this woman to walk without limping and which will ease her back pain

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Laos mobile clinic 24
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
03 Jun 2016

A mother waits for a lift back to her village after getting support from the clinic for her baby’s hip dysplasia

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Laos mobile clinic 26
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
03 Jun 2016

A physiotherapist and a doctor help a boy with nerve and muscle damage in his arms.

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Laos mobile clinic 36
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
03 Jun 2016

Physiotherapist Am Heng comforts a boy while the doctor prepares a cast for his foot

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Laos mobile clinic 19
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
02 Jun 2016

COPE Rehabilitation Manager, Suresh Selvaraj, helps a patient with cerebral palsy

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Laos mobile clinic 20
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
02 Jun 2016

A young man with a congenital malformation of his hands has a cast made. The cast will be used to make a support that will increase the flexibility of his atrophied muscles.

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Laos mobile clinic 21
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
02 Jun 2016

A prosthesis and crutches put to the side while a patient is measured for his new prosthesis

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Laos mobile clinic 23
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
02 Jun 2016

Wiak, 13, in hospital with his brother four days after suffering terrible injuries to his left hand and losing part of his right index finger and thumb to a UXO explosion

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Laos mobile clinic 22
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
02 Jun 2016

The casts that were made in one day of the mobile clinic

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Laos mobile clinic 35
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
02 Jun 2016

The team advises a man who has severe burn injuries to his hand

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Laos mobile clinic 12
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
01 Jun 2016

A young man, who lost an arm and who was badly burnt in an explosion at work, waits patiently for the doctors to make a cast of his arm.

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Laos mobile clinic 13
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
01 Jun 2016

COPE Rehabilitation Manager, Suresh Selvaraj, helps a patient to exercise his atrophied muscles

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Laos mobile clinic 14
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
01 Jun 2016

A boy, happy that his orthopedic shoes give him more stability

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Laos mobile clinic 15
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
01 Jun 2016

A twenty-year-old woman who can’t walk sits proudly in her first ever wheel chair that the mobile clinic team has given her

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Laos mobile clinic 16
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
01 Jun 2016

A young boy, wearing his new orthopedic shoes, catches up with his father after having his legs cast so that he can get braces made to support his legs

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Laos mobile clinic 17
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
01 Jun 2016

30-year-old Hone, who lives in an isolated mountain village, could not reach a hospital because of his heavy disabilities. A truck was sent to Hone’s village with some mobility assistive devices and a physiotherapist.

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Laos mobile clinic 18
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
01 Jun 2016

Before the arrival of the mobile clinic, 30 year old Hone has crawled all his life on his hands and feet

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Laos mobile clinic 10
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
31 May 2016

A doctor examines the worn out prosthetic leg of a 14-year old girl

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Laos mobile clinic 11
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
31 May 2016

14-year old Ler, who was born without a tibia bone in one leg, has used a lower-leg prosthesis since she was 4. She came to the mobile-clinic to adjust her prosthesis. Children and teenagers need to do have adjustments every 6 months.

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Laos mobile clinic 05
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
30 May 2016

COPE’s vehicles make their way through the mountains of Xieng Khouang Province, Laos

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Laos mobile clinic 06
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
30 May 2016

Onh, on the left, lost most of his left hand in a fire when he was a baby. Dr Boavanh, one of the few female surgeons in the Lao PDR, explains how he could get back a thumb and have better use of his hand.

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Laos mobile clinic 07
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
30 May 2016

COPE Rehabilitation Manager, Suresh Selvaraj, waits for patients to make their way across a river to the mobile clinic

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Laos mobile clinic 08
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
30 May 2016

Two burn victims help the doctors fill in their medical forms, while other patients wait in the background

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Laos mobile clinic 09
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
30 May 2016

A woman who has had surgery on her foot after suffering serious burn damage, comes to the clinic in need of further treatment

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Laos mobile clinic 01
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
29 May 2016

The mobile clinic makes a stop at the medical rehabilitation clinic of a district hospital

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Laos mobile clinic 02
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
29 May 2016

A young man, who recently lost his leg in a traffic accident, makes his way to the mobile clinic in Xieng Khouang Province, Loas

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Laos mobile clinic 03
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
29 May 2016

A young man, who recently lost his leg in a traffic accident, tries on prosthesis for the first time, Xieng Khouang Province, Laos

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Laos mobile clinic 33
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
28 May 2016

On the move again after waiting four hours for a mud slide to be cleared after heavy rain

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Laos mobile clinic 34
Xieng Khouang Province
By Alison McCauley
28 May 2016

The mobile clinic van parked after the 12-hour journey from Vientiane to Xieng Khouang Province, Laos

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Agent Orange's Adverse Legacy in Vietnam
Hanoi
By Pablo L. Orosa
24 Nov 2014

40 years after the end of Vietnam War, 150.000 Vietnamese children are still suffering the consequences of Agent Orange: cancer, malformations and social stigma. Due to their severe illness and congenital defects, most of the victims cannot find a job which increase their social stigma. In 2008, only 200.000 victims of Agent Orange got the subsides and the medical assistance provided by Vietnam´s Government. 

These photos feature victims of the adverse effects of the chemical still faced by Vietnamese civilians today.

FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST