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    Thai Health, Thammasat University and Mahidol University Work Together to Provide COVID-19 Information in Various Ethnic Languages

    Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth), Thammasat University and Mahidol University have worked out informative media in 10 ethnic languages, such as Tai Yai, Lahu, and Akha, under the ethnic women’s healthcare access mechanism development project. The main aim is to produce an informative media in order to forge the understanding about the COVID-19 situation. The media will be distributed through ethnic group leaders in order to alleviate their panic and inform guidelines to protect themselves for people from Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia in Thailand.

    Mrs. Porranee Phuprasert, Director of Populations Health Promotion Section, Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth), says that ThaiHealth is working with the Faculty of Public Health, Thammasat University (TU) under the ethnic women’s healthcare access mechanism development project. This collaboration is to produce informative media to inform minority people about the COVID-19 situation. The media has been made in 10 languages, such as Tai Yai, Lahu, Akha, and Hmong, and distributed online in form of infographic, video clips, Facebook posts, Line posts, audio, and community radio. Community’s leaders will be communicating with minority people. Moreover, ThaiHealth is also working with Mahidol University’s Faculty of Tropical Medicine to produce informative media about COVID-19 in 3 languages for Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodian people living in Thailand.

    “The spread of the COVID-19 affects ethnic group people because they cannot access information and disease prevention tools, including face masks and sanitizer gels. Some minority groups panic and don’t want to leave their house to do agriculture, some are anxious and don’t know what to do if they have contacted other groups of people. Some people also receive fake news. ThaiHealth, has always worked with local partners, hurries to deliver the right information to ethnic groups and informers of the groups in order to help minority people to receive the right knowledge and medical service in this situation”, said Mrs. Porranee.

    Asst.Prof.Ronnaphum Samakkikarom, Assistant Director of the Faculty of Public Health, Thammasat University (TU), says that we have support from ThaiHealth on the ethnic women’s healthcare access mechanism development project. This year is the fourth year to proceed with the project and support 4 ethnic groups, which are Karen, Leesu, Tai Yai, and Hmong. We also eliminate obstacles to the medical service of ethnic women groups by having community leaders to be “translator” and “ethnic health communicator”. Under the COVID-19 situations, these community leaders are vital to informing people in the community. Currently, we are working in 5 districts of 3 provinces, including, Mae Wang, district Chiang Mai, Mae Fah Lhuang, Mae Sai district, and Chiang Saen, Chiang Rai, and Pangmapha district, Mae Hong Son. There are 1,200 ethnic women and 400 community leaders participating.

    “The first phase is to protect ethnic women groups during COVID-19 situation by distributing media that translated Thai and medical terms, such as x-ray and sample collection, into ethnic languages. Most ethnic groups don’t understand medical terms so community leaders who can understand Thai will be a translator for them and use media from ThaiHealth to inform them about the situation”, said Asst.Prof.Ronnaphum.

    “Currently, we have distributed the media to community leaders. As a result, more people have correctly informed and can cope with the situation better, for example, they know about washing hands, wearing face masks, and social distancing. We also cooperate with local hospitals such as Pangmapha hospital in order to make doctors understand their culture and languages because, in some minority groups, women cannot sleep in other places without their husband’s permission. Therefore, when the doctor asks them to sleep, they will sneak out of the hospital. As a result, when we produce this media, local hospitals understand them better and know how to communicate with ethnic women”, said Asst.Prof.Ronnaphum.

    Mrs Noeri Thungmuangthong, Ethnic Woman Leader, says that she was happy that an organization is interested in the well-being of ethnic groups. It cannot be denied that we cannot access health services and have a language barrier which makes information receiving more difficult. Under the COVID-19 situation, most ethnic women and local communities are fear and don’t know how to cope with the situation. Therefore, when we give them informative media, it helps alleviate their fear and panic and makes them have a better understanding of the situation. Therefore, I would like to thank ThaiHealth and Thammasat University for their help.

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