Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Project HOPE Volunteers Helping Patients Understand their Health

Today I visited the Mabaruma clinic on its closing day. I watched three of the Project HOPE members help patients. One of our staffers, Rachel, spent three days on location and was happy to have spent a few nights in the community. That opportunity allowed her to meet the locals and get a feel for the problems they faced. Supplies and food options are really limited in the area, and asking a person with high blood pressure to radically change their diet might not be an option.

Just like the Santa Rosa site, the doctors were doing their best to treat any ailments with the supplies available, and diagnosed over 300 people while there. A lot of the people came in with skin infections we don't see in the United States. Apparently this is really common in developing nations, as living conditions may not be optimal and medicine to treat these problems is not readily available. The doctors on site were doing their best to treat any ailments with the supplies available, and saw over 300 people in the three days there.

I was told the hard part comes after the patients leave. Just like in America, getting the people to stick to their doctor's recommendations is hard to do. Most of the locals have no formal health education and have trouble understanding the impact of their eating or hygiene habits on their well being. High blood pressure and diabetes seemed common with this population, but these people tended not to stay the doctor's recommended course of action. The locals seemed to think that one dose was enough to cure their problems. They do not realize that they need to continue taking their medication, filling prescriptions or make a behavior change to cure their ailments. The HOPE staff has been working hard to explain that people need to stick to the health plan provided by their doctors.

Low literacy in outlying areas of the country also contributes to poor health education. Teaching proper diet and health maintence activites requires a person to be on location. Medical professionals cannot hand out pamphlets to the people because many of the people cannot read the information. This creates a huge challenge, as the Guyanese Government cannot afford to send out people to talk to every individual in the government.

Tomorrow Project HOPE is donating several tons of medical supplies to the Guyanese Government. I'll be on hand to take pictures and hear what the Guyanese officials say.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting about the impact of low-literacy and no formal education...enjoying your posts!