MEET RURAL HEALTH VOLUNTEERS, THE UNSUNG HEROES ON VIRUS FRONTLINE
As soon as a woman in her rural community registered a high fever, Auntie Arun alerted the local hospital doctors, who soon arrived in at least three cars, prepped to transport a COVID-19 patient.
Fortunately enough, the woman did not have the coronavirus, and the Moo 11 village in Nong Khai province remains free of the pandemic. Auntie Arun, or Arunrat Rukthin, 60, said she plans to keep it that way.
Arun is not a doctor, but a member of the nationwide Village Health Volunteers, known by their Thai acronym Aor Sor Mor – the unsung heroes on the frontline to monitor and protect residents from the coronavirus. They are also credited as one of the reasons why COVID-19 figures in Thailand stayed relatively low.
“We’re very ready, every village, subdistrict, district. We know everyone, who’s living where. We knock on doors, ask where people travelled to, and give our numbers to them so they can call. We distribute pamphlets about COVID and washing hands, and stick them up on doors,” Auntie Arun said.
The volunteers act as middlemen between rural residents and health officials, conveying medical facts and doctors’ orders to neighbors they’ve known all their lives. Their job is to knock on doors to check temperatures, as well as educating locals about hand-washing and social distancing.