Update from Ve'Ahavta Guyana, August 2003
September 3, 2003
September 3, 2003
Re: Update from Ve'Ahavta Guyana August 2003 Project
On behalf of the 42 staff and volunteers who participated on the annual 3 week project in Guyana, South America, please let me extend our warmest thanks for your generous donation and support for this worthwhile endeavour.
Our group consisted of 12 medical personnel, 5 Canadian aboriginal youth who did a cultural and gardening exchange with Amerindians in Guyana, 5 Israeli First-Aiders who teach first-aid in developing countries such as India and Guyana, a youth leadership group and a professional development group who facilitated local business leadership skills and local teacher facilitation skill enhancement. We worked in conjunction with the local Lion's Club in Bartica.
The medical group consisted of 1 Emergency physician, 1 Primary Care physician, 1 Public Health Nurse (specializing in developmentally delayed children), 4 nursing students, 4 medical students and myself, as Team Leader for the Medical Group and filling the Doctor's prescriptions for the patients.
It was an amazing 3 weeks with our mandate to work strictly with what the local 30 bed hospital and local river communities had to offer. In concert with local nursing staff, we held daily clinics at Bartica hospital and visited 7 river communities, seeing close to 1,000 patients. From the joy of childbirth to the sometimes mind-numbing desperation of poverty and untreatable illnesses due to lack of resources, the gentleness and patience and trust of people who came miles by canoe or on foot to "see the Doctor" made it all worthwhile.
The local nurses commanded our deepest respect for their knowledge and ability to perform under dire conditions. Between them and local "bushdoctors", we gained invaluable knowledge on treating tropical diseases and a deeper respect for nature and it's own ability to "treat".
CAW's contribution of $2,000 enabled us to provide medicines at cost such as Penicillin for treating YAWS, Combantrin for deworming and Vitamin A for eyesight, providing a basic patient file system for the hospital to begin working from, 14 stethoscopes, 3 glucometers for testing blood sugar levels and paint for a mural in the Maternal Child waiting area in the hospital. Over $10,000 worth of drugs were donated through local drug companies in Canada for diabetes, hypertension, antibiotics, vitamins, etc.
Dr. Howard Ovens and Dr. Sandy Buchman provided joint in-services for both local nursing staff and ourselves on Diabetes, Hypertension and HIV/AIDS.
Martha McKeown, Public Health Nurse did incredible community outreach and work with the local OT staff at the hospital in identifying and treating developmentally delayed infants and children. Our medical students developed and implemented a survey on HIV/AIDS Safe Sex and local attitudes towards local and western health care that was hugely successful for providing much needed information for local healthcare staff and ourselves.
The nursing students, along with the medical students, had the experience of a lifetime, providing care and treatment, and learning new procedures and skills that they may never be exposed to in Canada. They especially enjoyed learning how to take a radial bloodpressure - taking a blood pressure with only a bloodpressure cuff and no stethoscope. As the hospital was lacking in stethoscopes, it is a creative but legitimate way to get a reading without equipment. CAW's provision of stethoscopes (seen in the group picture in front of Bartica Hospital) were a welcome addition to sparse resources.
Please find enclosed some pictures from the trip, one especially poignant of Dr. Sandy Buchman listening to a fetal heartbeat with a barbell stethoscope used by the local hospital nurses, but not seen used in Canada since the turn of the century.
Once again, thank you so much for your support - without the generosity of organizations like CAW, we would not be able to provide for essential needs.
Team Leader, Medical Group
Ve'ahavta August 2003 Summer Project