Thursday, September 20, 2012

Global Health Projects

Some of the Global Health minors were given the opportunity to spend a day on VMH’s Mobile Health Unit. Each day, the Mobile travels to 10-12 different rural tribal communities. The medical team is made up of a few doctors, nurses, and social workers. The primary job of the Mobile is to provide free healthcare to people who would otherwise not have access.

Jen: I was amazed by the dedication of the medical staff. We were on the go starting at 8:30am and did not pull back into the hospital until 7:30pm. Many of the people receiving care were expecting mothers. Pregnant women brought booklets that were originally provided by the Mobile. These booklets were used to help keep track of the mother’s progress and also provided prenatal information for the women. Although many women take advantage of the free medical service, it was evident after visiting a few homes that there are still women not seeking proper prenatal care. For example, we found a woman who had recently given birth to premature twins and had not been evaluated by health professionals at any point during her pregnancy. My day on the Mobile was an awesome experience and provided great insight on some of the current issues faced by doctors practicing in rural settings.

Marion: The Mobile’s Saturday route traveled to sites where the government has provided the tribal people with “housing,” small concrete structures with a door and a window. Although I was also witness to plenty of pain and sickness, what stuck me the most while on the Mobile was the resiliency and sustainability of the people living in these villages. Despite having so little, they manage to provide for themselves with hardly any outside help. This is in stark contrast to the U.S., where people are incredibly dependent on a multitude of human and material resources, including healthcare. Similarly, I was very impressed by the Mobile Clinic and its doctors. They have limited resources, and yet they manage to serve a large number of people with a wide variety of health and health-related issues.

Olivia & Adriana: We were lucky enough to go on the mobile clinic ride on Friday with Dr. Mohan one of the doctors we work with everyday at Kenchanahalli. The experience was adventurous as soon as the van began moving, we entered the gates of the national reserve, international tiger reserve and one of the largest forests in India on the border of Karnataka and Kerala. Passing wild elephants, peacocks, herds of deer and swinging monkeys we finally made it to our first village. It was amazing to see the way tribal people still are living communally in modern times all taking care of one another and living together. At some villages people were lined up waiting, but at others there would be only one or two pregnant women hoping for checkups and good news from the doctors. One man we saw had cut open his hand pretty severely and the doctor feared the tendent may be damaged as well as the having an enormous risk for infection and asked him to come with us to the PHC to get stitches, and then man politely refused. It was quite a shock at first to hear someone refuse free medical attention that could potentially save his hand from being removed, but history, fear, ancient knowledge and tons of other factors that were apart of this tribal man’s decision to ignore medical advice were poured onto us. This experience has placed resource limited care into an entirely new setting that is reliant on cultural values and belief systems, which may have never entered our minds without such an eye opening in person account. This day on the mobile clinic was truly one of my favorite times here in India and has taught me so much about healthcare and medicine in a global and developing world context.


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