Sunday, December 1, 2019

#Giving Tuesday: Happy Bellies are... Within Our Reach

This #GivingTuesday, Happy Bellies are... Within Our Reach.

Alaska has some mighty fine folks who have brought medical brigades to Nicaragua for 15 years now.  And despite the recent high travel advisories they still come, including the most recent group who came the week of November 9-16.

Their very first group that came brought two pediatricians.  Mary was one of them and we had a conversation that went like this:

Me: “You will see lots of parasites in the children.”

Mary: “How will we know what kind of parasites the children have?  Do you have a lab?”

Me: “No.  You will have to guess.  If the feces are frothy treat for giardia.  If there are worms in the feces then treat for that.  If there is a fever then treat for a bacterial infection.  If you are not sure then treat for bacteria and amoebas.”

Mary: “But how will I know?”

Me: “You won’t.  Ask the parents and give it your best shot.”

It took me awhile to calm her fears until the other pediatrician - a retired Air Force pediatrician - finally said, “Mary, no one is going to sue you.  Do your best.”

NOW we have a laboratory with a licensed lab technician.

Much of what the doctors have done in the past was to over-treat making sure they hit all the bases with infections, bacteria, and parasites.  We gave children a dose of Albendazole every six months, to kill what parasites might be their digestive systems, in order to give the children a chance to absorb what food they did eat instead of feeding the little buggies.

NOW with our lab, our doctors can selectively target what is making the patients sick.  Much, much better for the patients.


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