As a family physician, we have been uniquely trained to be able to provide care to a wide variety of patients: from newborns, to the elderly, and even expecting women. There is no better opportunity than with global health trips to put these skills to use to benefit, treat, and serve an entire diverse population
I am privileged to be able to travel with a health care team to the small village of Andahuaylillas, Peru to provide medical care and health care education to this small population of 5,400 people. We will be setting up and running clinics in the village to treat people of all ages, running community health fairs to educate and teach the population about their medical conditions, and providing house-calls to treat those who are elderly and bed-bound. We will also be bringing with us several large duffel bags filled with medications and health care equipment to re-stock the local pharmacy located in the area and treat several acute and chronic medical conditions that afflict the population in that town.
The time that we spend there, I feel, will make a huge impact on the population and positively impact them in both the short-term and long-term. For once, we will be able to better control many chronic medical conditions such as hypertension and diabetes with medications and education that will lead to longevity and decreased mortality. Also, by treating many acute or chronic aches and pains that afflict many of the population as they do a lot of manual labor, we will be able to allow them to have an improved quality of life, improved pain, so that they are able to continue to work for a living to provide for themselves and their family members. Again, we would be making treating issues that would be life-changing for a majority of the population.
We decided to choose this location because of the tremendous impact that we feel we could make on the population. There is only a local clinic and pharmacy available that serves the needs of the 5000+ people that live in the city. There are also no hospital or emergency services available. Most of the elderly population and those that are too sick to leave the home are not adequately cared for as there are no doctors that are available to come to the homes. Also due to the location of the village, there are very limited resources and community partnerships that are available to the population.
As stated above, we feel that the population of Andahuaylillas will greatly benefit from our work both in the short-term and in the long-term. For example, since a majority of the town works in agriculture, many come in for issues with neck/shoulder/knee/back pain that we can treat with exercises, medications, and steroid injections. Children and expectant women will also be able to be seen for any ailments that are afflicting them. This will greatly improve their quality of life.
We also feel that we have a lot to offer the current health-care team that is responsible for the well-being of the population by offering them supplies and educating them with knowledge about how to care for this unique population.
The goal of our missions trip is not only to make an impact in the short-term but to also have long-term impact that lasts long after we leave. The key to this is education.
During the time that we spend there, our plan is to integrate ourselves into the culture, learn about the current system of healthcare, the cultural values of the population, the local medical needs, and the deficits in medical care that are present in the community. By gaining an understanding of this, we will be able to tailor our community health fairs and outreach that we do in the area so that it really resonates with the needs of the population. By providing education to the locals through these fairs and clinics, the hope is that by educating those that come, they will be able to continue to pass on the knowledge to others. This is key to leaving an impact that extends to beyond the time that we are there.
The other way that we can impact the area is by supporting the local health care team that is already in place. We will already be providing medical supplies and medications that will last for several months after we leave. The goal is that instead of "taking over" the clinic we will "show and teach" those already there how to care for and treat the population. Based on the needs of the community, we would also like to set up programs through the clinic that are aimed at preventing and monitoring of chronic diseases. These are ways that we plan to leave a lasting impact in the area that will serve to benefit the population for months and years to come.
We were privileged to be able to stay for two weeks in Cusco, Peru and serve the citizens in the remote village of Andahuaylillas. We provided care in several different settings: (1) worked in the local hospital to provide care to those who were mobile and healthy enough to to come to the clinic, (2) traveled to more rural areas in the town and set up our clinic at local schools and shelter's to serve those who were further from the main town and did not have access to its health services, and (3) home visits to those in and around town to help those who were bedridden, at the end of their life, or had some disability that severely limited their ability to leave the home. By the end of the trip, we were able to serve almost 700 people.
We helped care for the inhabitants of these communities also in several different ways. First, by coming to the clinic, they were able to receive several different types of medications that we had brought with us for their various ailments, both acute and chronic. We were able to provide education during the visits for chronic diseases. Our physical therapist was also able to demonstrate effective exercises to the patients for all the joint pains that they came in with (hip, knees, shoulders, back) given that most people make a living by doing manual labor in the fields. We also provided most families and patients with toothbrushes/toothpaste for improved oral hygiene, multivitamins, and wound care supplies to have on hand for minor injuries. Also rewarding was being able to supply prescription strength eye glasses to those who were suffering from blurry vision and seeing the joy on their faces from being able to see clearly for the first time.
Seeing how grateful the families were for the care that we were able to provide in such a short amount of time was incredibly satisfying. We were able to donate our leftover medications, supplies, and equipment to the local hospital so that we can continue to give back to the community even after we leave the area. We return from the trip with incredible memories, a fresh perspective, and an even greater desire to continue to participate in these global health trips. Thank you to the Dox Foundation for making this trip of a lifetime possible!