- Running three community health centers for migrants and displaced populations on the Thai-Shan border
- Providing basic health care, including maternal and child care, to these communities
- Awareness-raising on preventative health care, especially for reproductive health, and HIV/AIDS
The continuing civil war and accompanying human rights abuses in Shan State are driving continual flows of Shan refugees into Thailand - now estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands.
To help meet the medical needs of the refugees, SWAN with the cooperation of the Thai Public Health Authorities, set up a health centre in 1999. This centre is run by seven Shan women trained as community health workers and health educators. Since early 2004, SWAN has also set up a satellite health centre for remotely located Shan IDPs, right on the Thai-Shan border.
One main benefit of the centres is the ability to provide health education to patients receiving treatment. Tapes and brochures about HIV/AIDS produced by SWAN and other agencies, are able to be distributed in this way.
The spread of HIV/AIDS is a big concern. SWAN staff along with Thai HIV/AIDS health volunteers run regular health workshops aimed at giving basic education on HIV/AIDS, family planning, drugs and Thai law. Their target is displaced Shan people, particularly new arrivals. These workshops are invaluable as more and more people are opening up to SWAN personnel about their HIV/AIDS status and their needs.
An outreach support service provided by SWAN is also available. This is aimed at Shan refugees who already have HIV/AIDS but are unable to access Thai support services. The service provides counselling, emergency medical support and milk for babies as necessary.
To address the additional difficulties faced by women, SWAN members during the past few years, have been holding workshops for local women on gender issues and women's empowerment. To further help, SWAN is creating a health outreach program for women in the poorest communities, aimed at providing child healthcare and reproductive and maternal health education.