To realize our vision and accomplish our mission and goal, mobile back pack teams of three-five trained health workers provide a range of curative and preventive healthcare services to their own communities. The members of each team work together to provide all program services, with at least one health worker occupying a leadership role for the Medical Care Program, one for the Community Health Education & Prevention Program, and one for the Maternal & Child Healthcare Program. However, all team members share responsibilities as well as communicate with each other about their programs, helping to identify and meet community needs. The health workers in each team share their responsibilities and work closely together throughout the target area.
These health workers carry essential medicines, medical supplies, and data forms in their backpacks, and some teams carry more specialized equipment such as surgical tools for trauma patients. Each team targets 2,000 people, traveling between the villages in their assigned village tract to carry out their duties. They also travel to and serve numerous small, temporary communities of internally-displaced persons who are hiding from state and non-state armed groups.
The teams typically carry enough supplies to treat 2,000 people in a six month period, but occasionally they encounter larger populations needing services due to the unpredictable security situation in many of the areas in which BPHWT works. Back Pack teams spend a minimum of three days in a village, but different lengths of time are spent with each community depending on the movement of communities and the need to avoid Burma Army forces, with some communities becoming inaccessible if the route becomes too dangerous. However, as members of the communities they serve, local BPHWT staff is familiar with the local terrain and security situation, and are usually able to overcome these barriers to provide healthcare services to otherwise unreachable populations. Thus, the BPHWT occupies a unique position, circumventing the Burma Government’s many restrictions to monitor and report on the health status of these vulnerable populations, as well as to deliver vital health related services.
BPHWT provides services in areas of challenging physical terrain, made more challenging by barriers imposed by the Burmese military regime. Despite these circumstances, BPHWT’s mobile design, flexibility, and cohesion with the local villages enables teams to provide consistent, high-quality healthcare to communities outside of Burma’s central healthcare system and to communities in active conflict areas. The mobile nature of BPHWT’s teams allows them to reach the least stable areas in greatest need. When teams of health workers are not present in a given village, Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) and Village Health Volunteers/Workers (VHVs/VHWs) from each community are present and continue to provide basic care and referrals. These Traditional Birth Attendants and Village Health Volunteers, trained and supplied by Back Pack teams, are embedded in their local communities. This local network ensures constant access to basic services in between visits from the Back Pack teams, helping to provide service continuity event in the event of a sudden change such as displacements.
BPHWT field staff presently includes 98 teams of three to five health workers each, or a total of over 300 health workers. The health workers with their network of over 1,200 community-embedded TBAs and VHVs/VHWs offer basic health services to over 225,000 IDPs and war-affected residents living in 19 field areas in Karen, Karenni, Mon, Shan, Kachin, Chin, and Arakan States and portions of Pegu, Tenasserim, and Sagaing Divisions of Burma. In addition, BPHWT