Travelling on a university group placement to Laos provides students the opportunity to totally immerse themselves in Lao village life and work with the local healthcare providers at the grassroots level. Nineteen Degrees work with the Pak Xeng district authority in the Seuang River region, 3 hours north of Luang Prabang to assist in delivering effective and sustainable development outcomes through health outreach programs.
Country & Location Info
Laos shares international borders with China to the north, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, Thailand to the west, and Myanmar to the north-west and is the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia. It is a largely mountainous country and has only recently opened its doors to tourism and whilst the main tourist route through the country is now well trodden and visited much of Laos is yet to reap the benefits from tourism or development.
The people of Seuang River are a mix of lowland Lao, upland Khamu and highland Hmong ethnic groups. Each has a distinct language and culture. Many have migrated down from high mountain villages to the river valley to be 'on-road' for better health, education, communication and market access. As a result, most villages now consist of a mix of various ethnic groups. Despite rapid progress in the past decade, up to 80% of the Seuang River Valley population live in poverty, 30% of which in extreme poverty. Most of the population does not have access to adequate health care, housing or sanitation. The villages are some of the poorest in the country.
One of the first healthcare projects Nineteen Degrees staff worked on was three hours outside the UNESCO heritage town of Luang Prabang on the Seuang River in northern Laos.
Traditional lifestyles of the rural communities continue as they have for centuries and the surrounding natural beauty create the perfect living-classroom for student groups seeking to enhance their core curriculum through creativity, action and service.
Incredible grass roots experiences are on offer for student nursing groups, working with the Pak Xeng health district to provide primary health care and education to communities who ordinarily do not have easy access to a service. The Pak Xeng district stretches north along the Seuang River encompassing approximately 50 villages with a population of 200-400 per village. There are small community clinics and one provincial hospital in the region yet these are basic and staffed with only a small number of health care practitioners.
The greatest challenge of Pak Xeng District Hospital is to provide adequate health services to remote villages.
Nineteen Degrees' Australian University health groups work with the local health care teams on a health outreach project operating mobile clinics in the villages stretching along the Seuang River heading north.
Each day is spent at a different village setting up a mobile clinic in the community hall or school to administer basic healthcare and education using a family assessment model. Students complete basic health assessments and develop a nursing diagnosis with their supervisors to plan and implement care.
The clinics are very busy and students will have the chance to practice assessment skills and provide a primary health care service to all villagers.
In Country Support
Nineteen Degrees work in rural communities to promote community-driven sustainable development that place Australian groups in uniquely experiential situations that alleviate poverty, respect indigenous cultures and protect local environments. We achieve this through long-term partnerships with host communities and focus on in-depth experiential-education travel listening to both university clients and the communities. In this way we help ‘change lives through travel’.