Model Sanitary Hamlet Sparks
Interest Among Area Villages
PHAN RANG -- One of the Air Force's Military Provincial Health Assistance Program Team 14's most worthwhile achievements is its model sanitary hamlet program in Ninh Thuan Province.
"The sanitary conditions in these hamlets are quite below our standards," related Maj. (Dr.) James F. Romer, chief surgeon and head of MILPHAP Team 14 at the Ninh Thuan Province Civilian Hospital in nearby Phan Rang City. "They are tremendous breeding grounds for all types of diseases. They would give the average stateside public health official apoplexy."
The way the program works is for Vietnamese province public health officials to go into one of these disease-ridden hamlets, and with the help of MILPHAP Team 14 personnel, build latrines, make arrangements for land fill and garbage disposal, and work on other needed items. Pure water wells are dug, and bad water wells are covered. The hamlet officials are taught how to chlorinate their water. In essence, the hamlet is made a showplace for the officials of other hamlets to see.
"It works pretty well, too," stressed Major Romer. "Soon other hamlet officials who have seen the model sanitation hamlet come to us and say they want to do the same thing for their village.
"We act only as advisers. That is the important thing: they decide to improve their living conditions and then actually do something about it."
The first model sanitary hamlet was built jointly by the Vietnamese and MILPHAP Team 14 personnel about six months ago. The program has been so successful that the Vietnamese on their own initiative are starting three more model sanitary projects -- one in each of the province's four districts.
The team of physicians, surgeons, medical technicians and administrators, while operating primarily from the province hospital in Phan Rang City, can be found serving as counselors and advisers in many similar health projects throughout Ninh Thuan Province.