One of the interesting things about being in Xela is the high volume of foreigners living and working here. Xela is rather well known for its Spanish language schools, which draw people from around the world. In addition to the linguistic draw, Guatemala is filled with NGOs, and there seems to be an especially high concentration in this area.
Primeros Pasos is a clinic that charges $0.62 cents for a pediatric consultation and $3.75 for an adult to see a provider. Any medicine in the pharmacy is free with the cost of admission and some remedial laboratory work is included in the nominal fee as well. The clinic is constantly receiving miscellaneous grants and substantial financial support from Inter-American Health Alliance (IAHA) to pay the salaries of the few employees that run the place and then volunteers take care of the rest. Lauren and I noticed two issues at the clinic that we felt we could address to cut costs and improve patient care. She moved directly into improving malnutrition treatment protocol and wrote an entire study that is waiting approval. We also have found that the clinic is frequently without oral rehydration salts (ORS) used as treatment for people, but especially children, with diarrhea. Lauren and I were frustrated by the absence of ORS packets in the pharmacy, which led us to create a project to expand care at Primeros Pasos. Finding the perfect recipe for ORS and buying 100 pound bags of salt and sugar is our immediate goal.
I write to you today a little more optimistic than my last post on the developing disaster in Haiti. I will be keeping on top of the situation there and encourage you to stop by to read updates on my personal website, BillFrist.com. This weekend, I urgently emailed around the medical community, searching for desperately needed supplies for Haiti's ongoing cholera outbreak. From starting with nothing Saturday morning, we now will have a massive bulk shipment of Ringers Lactate and IV sets arrive this week in Haiti, be distributed that afternoon to 8 facilities by evening. Impressive response on short notice.
As the cholera outbreak continues to ravage through Haiti, killing hundreds and inciting terror and riots throughout the country, I'm afraid I may have more bad news. It has come to my attention today that the cholera outbreak is being vastly underreported and underestimated. My sources on the ground in Haiti have estimated that the current epidemic is up to 400% worse than the official numbers reflect. Considering that the official numbers already state a toll of 1,110 dead and another 18,000 sick, the scope of this savage outbreak is shocking.
While it feels as if I just arrived, I can't believe I will be heading back home tomorrow. What a phenomenal experience this has been. This month has not only had a high impact on my education, but has been a unique, once in a lifetime experience. I say once in a lifetime, but I certainly hope this is not the case. I would love and certainly hope that I will be back to visit Kijabe in the future.

by Jenny Eaton Dyer, Ph.D.

Senator Frist, M.D. sat down with Jim Thebaut of Running Dry.org, an organization working for access to safe, affordable, and sustainable drinking water for all, to in the video below.

This video will be circulated throughout the House of Representatives to promote awareness and support for the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act 2010.

We invite you to watch!

 

Imagine getting up early in the morning, standing in front of the kitchen sink, you turn on the faucet and nothing happens. Has the pump failed again? You slip on your jacket, grab a container and start walking down the hill. It hasn't rained lately you're thinking to yourself and you stop in your tracks – the stream-bed is dry. This is not an excerpt from some prairie novel written about life at the turn of the century; it's reality for many families across Appalachia.
In a country so plagued by poverty, one would hope that the contrast between wealth and destitution would rile up people's desire for justice. But following conversations with my Guatemalan peers in the clinic, it has become apparent that the silent apathy has also become just as prevalent as the poverty that screams for our attention. Despite the undeniable contrasts, many people seem to view poverty as benign and even acceptable. Those who choose to acknowledge poverty here do not always know how to or take action against it.
There will always be patients that leave an indelible mark upon your career, future treatments and personal emotional strength. Yet medical providers do their best to find coping mechanisms to prevent the emotional burnout of seeing tragedy after tragedy, but these barriers can be overcome. I've had a few very influential patients in my short time working with medicine, but there is one at the Primeros Pasos clinic who continues to interrupt my thoughts because of his illnesses and how he his plight affects my deepest personal values. I've seen this patient three times now and he has become a frequent forethought during my time here in Guatemala.
If first impressions mean anything, then this trip to Kenya will be one I will always remember. Not that I expected anything less. We arrived at Kijabe about one week ago, and there already are a number of things that have awe-struck me. But perhaps what has stood out more than anything to me is the people here. While many of them have little in the way of possessions, you couldn't find a more happy, gracious, or appreciative people, making this journey all the more special.

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