Satellite communications to support the health of Karen refugees

Publication date: Feb 20, 2015
In northern Thailand, where Karen people have fled to seek refuge, access to communications is very limited, hindering the functioning of health facilities. TSF worked with NGOs to improve healthcare through the provision of satellite communication.

In order to escape armed conflict and human rights violations directed to the Karen ethnic group, thousands of people fled Myanmar across the border into Thailand. Since then, Karen refugees are living in camps along the Thai-Burmese border.

Two of these camps, Mae Ra Ma Luang and Mae La Oon are not covered by national telecoms infrastructures and communication from and inside the camps remains an issue.

TSF has installed an internet connection within the camps’ hospital lead by NGO Malteser International serving a total of around 25,000 refugees as well as the inhabitants of surrounding villages. Malteser's aims in the camps are to:
- Reduce mortality and morbidity among the refugees
- Control communicable diseases
- Limit the risks of epidemics and disease outbreaks
- Improve health staff’s capacity
- Increase participation of camp communities in planning, implementing and monitoring promotional health activities

The connection will allow Malteser International to facilitate their operations and deliver faster more efficient help to the refugees. Beyond this, the connection will also provide access to a phone line in the camp.

At the end of the project on 31st December 2015, beneficiaries passed 280 calls, or nearly 1 per day.