Since 2010, the Swimming Doctors have been caring for people in the Irrawaddy Delta of Myanmar on their ‘Swimming Doctor’s Surgery’.
The Myanmar Delta does not have any roads and is only accessible via an expansive river system. A visit to the doctor is often associated with journeys lasting hours and unaffordable costs. The approximately 6 million inhabitants of the river delta live far-removed from medical institutions and an adequate level of medical care.
The Swimming Doctors’ first vessel was created from a former cargo ship which, over the course of an eight-month conversion, was turned into working and living quarters for a 14-strong team.
In 2013, work was started on the construction of a second ship, the ‘Swimming Doctors 2’. Since August 2014 it has been making regular tours of the Delta on a four-week cycle.
The ‘Swimming Doctors 2’ is fitted with everything that a mobile clinic needs: examination rooms, diagnostics and ultrasound, ECG, laboratory, OP room and dentist’s chair. The medical team consists of an experienced surgeon, a young general practitioner, three nurses, a dentist and a laboratory technician. The doctors are also supported by an eight-strong crew. On a daily basis, between 50 and 70 patients visit the swimming clinic.
The Swimming Doctor’s work is determined by seven guiding rules:
- All those in search of help are given medical and dental advice, examination and treatment according to the best knowledge.
- The population in the Delta can depend on regular medical care.
- The quality of the services is continuously monitored and improved.
- The organisation respects the culture, laws and authorities of the country of Myanmar.
- There is to be close collaboration with health service providers on location, as well as with national and international NGOs.
- The cost of treatment is fair and transparent. Monks, children and those with no financial means are treated free of charge.
- The group operates as a German-Burmese team in accordance with the principle ‘Together Everybody Achieves More’ (TEAM).