Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Best Practices and "Free" Medical Clinics

In poor rural areas, where income is very low, often those who are sick will try home remedies, teas, and herbs, before considering a visit to a doctor.  If there is a pharmacy nearby, they will prescribe their own medicine as in this country you don't need a doctor's prescription for most medicines. Neighbors will volunteer the names of medicines that have helped them with similar ailments.  Antibiotics, steroids, viagra, are all sold across the counter without a prescription.  The danger though is that they will misdiagnose their problem and hurt themselves.  They usually continue this home remedy treatment until they can't stand the pain anymore

The Pharmacy for a clinic at a church.
and are forced to go into the big town where there is a public hospital. Now that I think about it, in the U.S. we have people that put off seeing a doctor, but not because they can't afford it (though I think this is happening also), but because they have a fear of doctors and hospitals.  La Vega, where we live is one of these towns with a big public hospital. Treatment is free, conditions are poor, and families are expected to spend the day and night with the patient to make sure  the prescribed medicines are bought, and that the patient is well taken care of. I won't write about the waiting lists for operations that are common.  Considering the resources on hand the medical community is doing the very best they can.

All this was said to help you understand the impact a visiting missions medical team can have on spotting potential problems early.   And how by their directing the patients to the proper care they need, they may head off worse health conditions. Sometimes though we are not able to use to the fullest advantage these team visits.

 For instance, I remember hosting a medical team that brought in medicine and doctors and volunteers to help with a free medical clinic in a rural area.  It went great except that it was almost a madhouse.  Every