Health Worker Spotlight: Champion of Rehabilitation Medicine in Lao PDR

Dr. Bouathep Phoumindr
Dr. Bouathep Phoumindr from the Faculty of Medical Technology advises Medical Doctor Jovue Yianouvong from the Luang Prabang Provincial Hospital on rehabilitation medicine as part of the follow up monitoring. Photo: Sara Engelhard / World Education Laos
Dr. Bouathep Phoumindr
Dr. Bouathep Phoumindr from the Faculty of Medical Technology followed up with Dr. Bouangeun Xayalath in Xieng Khouang Provincial Hospital after the training on rehabilitation medicine. She observed how Dr. Bouanguen applied her knowledge to treat a patient. Photo: Monthong / World Education Laos

As the only qualified doctor specializing in medical rehabilitation in Lao PDR, Associate Professor Dr. Bouathep Phoumindr, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Medical Technology (FMT) in the University of Health Sciences, is passionate about mentoring the next generation of doctors in physical medicine.

When Dr. Bouathep graduated from university in Thailand, she realized that medical rehabilitation is crucial in helping patients with different conditions, including people with disabilities. She believes that the number of patients who are in need of rehabilitation treatment increases daily, but Laos still lacks doctors who specialize in this area. Wealthy individuals have the means to travel overseas to receive treatment, but most people living in rural areas cannot afford such treatment. Therefore, Dr. Bouathep’s optimal goal is to improve the medical rehabilitation capacity of medical doctors throughout Laos.

The FMT project “Scientific Knowledge on Rehabilitation Medicine of Central and Provincial Medical Doctors,” supported by the USAID-funded World Education TEAM project, helps to improve the skills of ten doctors from Vientiane Capital central hospitals, selected provincial hospitals (where rehabilitation centres already exist), and the University of Health Sciences.

Associate Professor Dr. Bouathep serves as a role model, mentor, and teacher to doctors and nurses. After the rehabilitation medicine training, she followed up with the health staff to ensure that they were successfully implementing the knowledge they had learned; their success is essential to her and her country, and to the populations the medical professionals serve.

“Even though training others in rehabilitation medicine can be extremely challenging and exhausting, it is worth it when I see patients improving their lives and functionality through rehabilitative treatment,” said Dr. Bouathep. “It is the best part of my work, and it is why I will continue to do this work for the rest of my life. I believe that rehabilitation medicine will only improve in Laos.”

APC grantee,World Education, implements the TEAM Laos project with the goal of enabling people with disabilities (PwDs), especially women and girls to attain and maintain maximum independence to fully and equally participate in all aspects of life. The project combines World Education’s successful experience in assisting Lao unexploded ordnance (UXO) survivors and people with disabilities with its understanding of how to manage sub-grants, and how to build the capacity of local organizations that are working towards the common goal of assisting people with disabilities.