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Refugees in Thailand and Short-term Medical Aid

Gabriel Smilkstein, MD
JAMA. 1981;245(10):1052-1054. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03310350040020.
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IN THAILAND, approximately 400,000 refugees reside in camps within the country and along its borders with Cambodia (Kampuchea) and Laos. The number of refugees is too great for the government of Thailand to manage alone. Each refugee camp requires a support system that includes an administrative and work force responsible for such items as food, water, sanitation, housing, and health care. When the Cambodian refugees fled to Thailand in large numbers last fall, the health care problems were staggering.1,2 A medical organization was needed to (1) prevent epidemics of cholera and typhoid; (2) treat a large number of patients with marasmus, kwashiorkor, malaria, tuberculosis, and war injuries; and (3) promote health by providing an adequate diet for the refugees, especially children and pregnant and lactating women.

An Instant Refugee Camp  Under the administrative guidance of the Thai Ministry of Interior and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, a


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