For over 25 years W.B.Conolly had been involved in developing country projects on a self-funded basis but in the 1990’s the Rotary Club of Mosman asked him to set up a Hand Surgery and Rehabilitation Unit Program in Vietnam. This project became very successful and is ongoing. Then in 1999 the Club asked if he would consider a similar project either in Laos, Cambodia or Myanmar and he, after discussing it with Joyce, decided on Myanmar.
At the first visit in 2000 he and Joyce recognised the great need for his field of Hand Injuries and Joyce’s village health care work need and this dual program began and has continued to this present day, Bruce with Hand Surgery and Rehabilitation teaching and training and Joyce in Village Health Care work where there are no doctors.
Soon on in their projects they fell in love with the Burmese people and very soon on each had their special contacts in Myanmar who are always there on their regular visits to receive, welcome and support and keep their projects going in between their visits.
Quick Facts and Figures about Healthcare in Burma (2013)
- Burma was once the richest, now the poorest nation in Southeast Asia
- Dire poverty and desperation exists in Burma, especially for women and children
- In Burma, 1 in 7 children die before the age of five
- The Burmese government spend the least percentage of GDP on healthcare of any country in the world
- International donor organisations give less to Burma, per capita, than to any country in the world — except India
Why still keep going?
Despite the progress made there remain very poor health services especially in the provincial and district hospitals and there is a shortage of knowledge and equipment to deal with those injuries of the hand which are very, very common as Burma being such an impoverished country.
The Burmese people carry out most forms of physical work by hand or, if there are machines like the sugar cane cutting machines, there are very few safety devices.
Although there is a change to the democratic system, there has been very little improvement in the health services especially in the rural areas where most people live.