We took a metered taxi at KLIA 2 on your return. We were asked by our friendly but curious Malay taxi driver about our journey. We told him about the Charity Healthcare trip to Laos. He remarked that such care was also needed in the home country, and why we bothered to go so far. “Charity begins at home”, if I might be allowed to add. To me, home is where the heart resides, much broader than physical abode. If there is no kindness and love, then that charity is ego motivated. I asked one of our organisers do humanity and love extended to all, including terrorists. He replied that it had to exclude evil people, which meant, love was conditional. Maybe it is less complicated if we look at deeds and action, rather than the person. In reply to the driver, I told him that many of us, in various NGOs, responded to the flooding in East coast states much faster than the government, and many of us had been in such services for decades. We are not free riders in the name of charity.

Lao PDR has a population of 6.8 million people, with 42 ethnicities. Vientiane has a population of about 800,000.) It is landlocked, but in recent years due to opening up, it is land linked to all neighbouring countries. The incidence and prevalence of HIV/AIDS have also increased, 0.29% in 2013 (Vientiane at 5.6%). Life expectancy for male is 64 years, and 67 years for female in 2012. Infant mortality for under 5 years is high at 72/1000. Incidence of Diabetes Mellitus was reported as 4.5% in 2010, low by comparison, but I suspect the figure is much higher than I have encountered, especially among the elderly. In the three-day care, we encountered many cases of Diabetes Mellitus, alcoholic liver diseases, goitre and hyperthyroidism, dyspepsia, back and joint pains. Many of these illnesses were related to their occupation (farmers with excessive bending) and alcoholism among the males. Common presenting symptoms are: tiredness, lack of energy, dyspepsia, back and joint pains (mainly shoulder, lower back and knee joints), and stress related. There was high consumption of rice whisky, easily and cheaply available, even at petrol stations.



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