Utah Valley Global Health Group

A blog about global health for those living in Utah Valley and their friends.

Archive for the ‘humanitarian aid’ Category

Karl Kirby and Rising Star Outreach: Experiences with Leprosy in India

Posted by chads on April 14, 2009

To introduce myself, I’m currently serving as the medical director for Rising Star Outreach (RSO) in India. Chad has asked that I post something about what I”ve been doing over the past 8 months. It’s very difficult to know where to start, but I’m going to give it a shot and then follow-up with more, depending on the questions that follow. I have no special training in tropical medicine or public health, just a long-standing desire to be involved in improving the health care for those most in need. So, I’ll be happy to hear from others with more experience and/or training who have suggestions and comments. I am a family-medicine trained physician and spent the first four years of my career as the physician of a rural Community Health Center in Na’alehu Hawaii. After that, my wife and I felt it was time to do what we’d always said we’d do – find an organization who needed our services in a developing nation. Through Chad, we discovered a need with Rising Star that fit perfectly with our skills and desires. Rising Star Outreach exists to try to assist those who have been afffected by leprosy (although I’m aware that the term Hanson’s disease is preferred among some, I’ll continue to use the term leprosy in this posting because it is the term commonly used here in India). While I work on the medical side of the organization, my wife (who has an education background) assists at the school.

In India, RSO runs a mobile clinic in an attempt to improve the healthcare for the seven colonies it services. At the same time, RSO administers microloans to leprosy afflicted infividuals and offers a boarding school to some of the children from the colonies. I live with my wife and 3 small children on the rural RSO property which also houses the children’s hostels and school. My responsibilities include overseeing the mobile clinic and medical services on site for the children (and other employees). I work closely with a local physician, who is trained as a general practicioner, and a local nurse.

In India, the rates of new leprosy cases are very low. The Indian government and the WHO have made huge efforts to encourage early detection and treatment which are now paying off. The patients whom I treat are not people with active leprosy, but rather people who acquired the disease many years ago, did not receive prompt treatment, and now suffer various disabilities because of it. Because of the nerve damage that has taken place, many of the patients suffer from chronic ulcers, primarily on their lower extremeties. One of our big goals has been to try to find a better way to help these wounds heal. Having done a little extra training in woundcare before arriving, I had certain ideas about what needed to be done to improve healing. However, I soon realized the difficulty in transferring these techniques – the main barriers were lack of similar materials and also the low frequency of our visits.

About a year ago, I was introduced to a surgeon from Mumbai, Dr. Atul Shah, who was holding “camps” to help similarly afflicted individuals treat their wounds. He was giving instruction sessions and handing out small packets with a callous file, bandages, antisceptic, and antibiotic ointment. He was reporting good results through this self-care program. At first I was a little skeptical that this could really have the impact I was looking for, but after several months of treating these patients with little success, I began to see the wisdom in this program. With it’s focus firmly on self-reliance, it fits in well with our efforts to educate the children of the colonies and encourage financial independence.

So, in January, we put together our own self-care kits, and started rolling out this program to the seven colonies we visit. Each colony is visited every 2 weeks. In the past these visits included consultation with the physician and the dispensing of basic medications for general problems as well as bandage changes for those in need. We also provide transportation to a private hospital in Chennai, Sri Ramachandra Medical Center, two or three times a month for patients needing specialty care, procedures, or hospitalization. (This gives them another option for care outside of the government system.) Now, in addition to the other services provided, we meet individually with each patient to assess their wounds which we are following with digital photos. It allows us to provide specific encouragement and reinstruction as they look at their initial photo on our laptop and view the current wound. We’re currently midway through what should be a 4 month program in several of the colonies, with the larger of our 2 colonies being about a month into it. It’s been very exciting to discover that many of the patients are making very good progress, while I saw very little progress in the months before the program. To me, this is a great example of the effectiveness of a simple program that places responsibility with the patients. Clinically, I believe the program is working because it encourages a gradual removal of old deep callous (through soaking the feet and using the callous file) so that it can be replaced with more viable tissue, and it simply encourages more regular care of the wounds.

In addition to the work in the colonies, caring for the medical needs of the 125 boarding students has been a treat. They are a fun group of children who always pose the challenge of figuring out whether they have a serious medical problem that day or just want a little more attention. Thus far, we’ve avoided anything catastrophic, although we’ve had our share of fractures, lacerations, common pediatric infections, and single cases of scopion envenomation, slipped capital femoral epiphysis, and clinically significant Hepatitis A, and Typhoid fever. We’ve begun a program, with the kind help of a local pediatrician, to provide immunizations to the children which are not on the government schedule (next up is Typhoid) which I’m very pleased with. Dr. Jayakumar drives about 40 minutes and provides staff and vaccinnes each month to assist us in this project. We became acquainted when I started taking my own son to him for his 1-year vaccinations.

So, overall, this has been a wonderful experience for me. I have no delusions that the service I offer is any greater than the growth I’m gaining through the medical experiences I’m having as well as the personal growth that comes with service. Hopefully, with the help of others, this can be one step toward increasingly more effective interventions as we strive to assist those with the greatest medical needs.

On another note, RSO is very interested in keeping a health-care professional on campus once I leave. I will be coming back to Utah in May. While the local physician and nurse will still be running the medical services, they live about 40 minutes from campus. To manage the urgent, or potentially emergent, problems that arise with the children and employees, RSO would like to keep a healt-care provider on site. This could be a physician, a PA, a nurse practitioner, or an experienced nurse or EMT. They would also get to assist with the work of the mobile clnic. We are looking for someone who could commit to staying for a significant period of time (close to a year or more). If you or anyone you know is interested, please let me know.

Posted in Announcements, Clinical Tropical Medicine, Guest Bloggers, humanitarian aid, Leprosy, NGOs | 4 Comments »

Of Mormons and Measles

Posted by ryanlindsay on December 6, 2008

According to a recent WHO press release, the Measles Initiative is working with a 74% reduction in measles cases since 2000. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has donated at least 3 million dollars to the initiative. Members of the church have also given of their time at vaccine events in Angola, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Presiding Bishop David H. Burton has said that “over 54,000 Church members volunteered to help organize the effort.”

Beyond monetary contributions, I would like to see more initiatives like this Measles vaccination program that tap into local congregations to mobilize communities. Could this serve as a model for future initiatives?

Posted in Global Health and Mormonism, humanitarian aid, Measles | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Utah NGO Round-Up

Posted by ryanlindsay on July 8, 2008

Healing Hands for Haiti

The Healing Hands for Haiti International Foundation is based in Salt Lake City, but has expedition teams from all across North America. They are involved with medical procedures, education, prosthetics, and distribution of medical supplies. Here are some supplies they are always in need of.

Local teams from Salt Lake and Utah Valley are constantly performing expeditions. Many medical staff from the area have volunteered time to travel to Haiti. Physicians, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech/language pathologists, orthotists, and prosthetists should consider traveling to Haiti. They also welcome translators and other volunteers with benificial skills. For interest in helping a Utah-based team, contact Lisa @ lisa.bagley@hhh.ination.com. To see where other teams originate from check their website.

This organization impresses me in that it incorporates research into their service and publishes findings in peer-reviewed journals. More of this is needed in the NGO world. Another great attribute is their expansion to include public health ventures (of course, I’m an MPH candidate) where health education initiatives have reached thousands.

AfrikSoul International

AfrikSoul International was founded in 2004 by refugees to help fellow refugees from Africa living in Salt Lake City. Since then it has reached out to serve refugees from all over the world and underprivileged communities in Africa as well.

AfrikSoul International’s mission is to empower individuals and communities to overcome obstacles in regards to displacement, poverty, HIV/AIDS, illiteracy, environmental degradation, and gender discrimination. They aim to provide assistance here in Utah (United States) and in Africa to refugees, immigrants, internally displaced people, victims of torture, distressed women and children, elderly or the seniors and those suffering from economical hardship to become self-reliant and help bring back their dignity and respect.

Empower Playgrounds

Recently Empower Playgrounds has been in the local news for developing playground solutions that generate electricity to power the school. This is an innovative approach, indirectly health related, is far-reaching into the community. Empower Playgrounds teamed up with students and professors from BYU to help out with their projects. They gathered materials (like used auto parts) from local markets in Ghana, and instructed natives in how to assemble merry-go-rounds in efforts to make their idea sustainable.

Ascend: A Humanitarian Alliance

Ascend claims that what sets them apart from other aid organizations is their ability to educate. They have health, education, business and other initiatives currently operating in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Bolivia, Peru, Mexico and Ecuador. There are upcoming expeditions planned in Peru and Bolivia. There are many ways you can assist Ascend.

Agel Cares Foundation

Agel Cares is the foundation formed from the Agel company. In March 2008 it donated money to Rising Star Outreach as well as other NGOs. It welcomes applications for grant money.

If you are from an NGO and you would like something specific advertised, you can email me at unacceptableglobalhealth@gmail.com and I’ll post to this blog.

Posted in humanitarian aid, NGOs, Opportunities, Volunteer | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Utah NGO Round-Up

Posted by ryanlindsay on June 5, 2008

All of the following Utah-based NGOs are involved in orphan care. They all seem to follow a pattern beginning with the building of orphanages, and then expanding their efforts beyond orphanage construction to include education, health and other initiatives. Some of these organizations have partnered with each other, I’m sure they could all learn from each other through some collaboration on this site!

Kaiizen

Kaiizen was started by some BYU students who saw a need and took action. The Kaiizen Foundation took something mainstream, such as an apparel company, and put a humanitarian twist on it. Kaiizen exists to raise money for orphanages all around the world. It is a 501c(3) non-profit organization that raises money through the sales of their apparel and through various benefit concerts, parties, and surf/skate competitions. I’m impressed by how they are able to rally the youth to get involved in global problems.

They currently have projects in Baja, Mexico and Maceio, Brazil. There are at least three more trips planned to the Baja this year. June 26-29, October 16-19, December 4-7.

Visit the Kaiizen website and become a member for only $30. Your donation will help improve the lives of orphaned youth around the world, and you will get a great looking Kaiizen t-shirt and sticker.

A Child’s Hope Foundation

A Child’s Hope Foundation provides orphaned and abandoned children in developing countries a healthy, caring environment while seeking a loving family for them. Based in Provo, Utah the foundation currently works in Haiti, Mexico, Peru, China, South Korea, Bulgaria, and Ukraine.

Volunteers can help with work trips (which are short term typically 1-2weeks). Opportunites to serve longer as caregivers in orphanages is an option. Their next volunteer work trip will be to Mexico to help build orphanages and will take place August 25-29 (they especially need individuals w/masonry skills). They often keep interested individuals posted through newsletters.

One Heart Bulgaria

One Heart Bulgaria is based in Providence, Utah. All of its programs support orphans in Bulgaria. This happens through sponsorships of individual orphanages; completion of special projects for the orphanages; providing specialized medical care; implementing life skills training programs for the teenage orphans; and training orphanage staff, to properly care for the orphans.

One Heart Bulgaria has a recent newsletter highlighting their activities. There are many different ways to donate. This organization has a seemingly well established internship program for volunteers to help in an orphanage for 4+ weeks.

The Afghanistan Orphanage Project

The Afghanistan Orphanage Project (TAO Project) initiated from a group of Utahns in the 211th Aviation Battalion who were stationed in Afghanistan. The project is dedicated to providing orphaned and homeless children shelter, food, clothing, health services, education, and love. They have a huge orphanage in the works that will house 1,000 children. Another focus of the TAO project is to bring Afghanistan children to the United States for life-saving surgeries.

Recently they went to film a documentary on the building efforts. The villagers agreed to donate their labor each Friday, the Islamic holy day, to the building of the orphanage. The director, Shah Karimi is a native and will run the orphanage. This organization seems to be making good steps into making the development sustainable.

The Blueberry Foundation

The Blueberry Foundation – was created in 1994 and is based out of Salem, UT. They work in constructing, refurbishing and maintaining orphanages as well. They advertise the need for help with July 2008 projects to Ukraine and Philippines.

If you are from an NGO and you would like something specific advertised, you can email me at unacceptableglobalhealth@gmail.com and I’ll post to this blog.

Posted in humanitarian aid, NGOs, Opportunities, Volunteer | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »