On July 20th and 21st, MEDLIFE hosted its first mobile clinic at the Santa Monica Women's Penitentiary in Lima, Peru. We returned last week to host both an educational workshop and to provide follow up care to the patients.

MEDLIFE delivered pap smear results and provided treatment and medication, including ultrasounds where necessary, to the 120 women that we saw in July.

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Five months ago, Peru was hit with historic rains, flash floods and mudslides, known here as huaycos. During our initial efforts to provide relief, MEDLIFE met a mother from a local school, Colegio Inmaculada in Naña. She informed MEDLIFE that the school was lacking a proper sanitary area for the children to eat, also known as a comedor. Without this comedor, the school is at risk of losing access to the government program Qali Warma (Healthy Child in Quechua), which provides free meals to students in low-income communities.
MEDLIFE is in the early stages of building a new comedor with the community. This project will ensure the continuation of the Qali Warma program, providing 160 students with nutritious food at school.

Last Friday the MEDLIFE summer interns joined the community members of Union de Santa Fe to inaugurate the completion of a new staircase. Not only will this provide safe and secure access to several homes but is the main point of access to the newly constructed second floor of the Wawa Wasi.

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1) MEDLIFE Values Volunteers

Over 3 billion people, more than half of the world's population, live on less than $2.50 a day. While statistics like this may seem bleak, they are not impossible to overcome. Poverty is a systematic issue that exists everywhere and is a cycle which MEDLIFE aims to break. The work we do would be impossible without the help of volunteers. In addition to providing helping hands during mobile clinics and development projects, many MEDLIFE volunteers fundraise year-round to help fund future development projects! 

I’m a biology major. My classes involve a lot of walking through the woods, measuring the circumference of trees, and counting bugs. So, you’d be correct to assume that my friends had quite a few questions when I decided to pick up and move 3,199 miles (5148 km for anyone who’s wondering) away for three months to do an internship that consists mostly of taking pictures, writing blogs, and posting on the MEDLIFE facebook page. The answer is pretty simple; I am trying to see the world through a different lens.
“Why are you helping abroad and not back at home?” 
 
This question haunted me throughout the summer, but I knew it would follow me the rest of my life since I have a desire to live and work in another country after graduation. It was hard for me to answer, but interning with MEDLIFE for a summer helped me find clarity.
 
I devoted three months of my life to uncertainty. I had never been away from home this long, never been to Lima, Peru, and never met the thirteen other interns I would be living and working with. It was definitely scary, but it's through these moments of uncertainty that I learned more about who I am and about the needs of the world, specifically Peru.
MEDLIFE recently held its second annual Leadership Corps, a two-week service learning trip that is open to Chapter Leaders and Student Advisory Board (SAB) members. This year, eight student leaders were joined by MEDLIFE staff, including CEO Dr. Nick Ellis, in Ecuador and Peru to learn in-depth about MEDLIFE's work and future goals, as well as global health and development issues such as structural violence, education, urban development, public health and international aid. 
August 8, 2017 12:13 pm

MEET THE PATIENT: Karol

Written by Aidan Wells
Jose Galvez is a district within the Municipality of Villa Maria del Triunfo in Lima, Peru. The district is well known as the home of the largest cement factory in Peru. To reach Karol's house required a trek which involved 3 buses, a walk along the highway across from the cement factory, and finally, a hike up the steep pathway to the house. There are no stairs, no paths, or guides on the way to Karol's front door, only the rocky hill that leaves you breathless...literally. 
 
From left to right: Rocía, Karol, and MEDLIFE Nurse Janet Ludeña pose for a photo in Karol´s home.From left to right: Rocía, Karol, and MEDLIFE Nurse Janet Ludeña pose for a photo in Karol's home.
 
The house is clean and tidy. Rocío, Karol's mother, has meticulously made sure that everything is in place, well-painted, and organized. The home is humble, but comfortable. There are many photos on the wall. All of them Karol. Karol is pictured dancing; she's pictured smiling. There's even a photo collage of her high school graduation. "She is my only daughter," says Rocío. 
 
Karol is 17 years old and currently studying Hospitality and Tourism. Her dream is to become a flight attendant. "I want to travel" she told us when we asked why she was studying Tourism. "I want to fly and get to know the world. I love nature and waterfalls. I definitely want to visit somewhere like that outside of Peru."
 
Rocía and Janet do an analysis of Karol's socioeconomic status during the very first patient follow-up visit. This helps determine which form of health insurance Karol qualifies for.Rocía and Janet do an analysis of Karol's socioeconomic status during the very first patient follow-up visit. This helps determine which form of health insurance Karol qualifies for.
 
When Karol was 10 years old she started presenting strange symptoms like shortness of breath, lightheadedness, and dizziness. Her family took her to the Bartolome Herrera Hospital where she was diagnosed with Arrhythmia, a disease that causes abnormal heart beats, either too fast or too slow. Basically, the electrical current was not running through Karol's heart properly.  She was given enough pills to last her two months, since mild arrhythmia does not typically require intensive treatment.
 
Eventually Karol improved and was able to lead a normal life, until two years ago, when she began showing symptoms again. This time, however, the symptoms were much stronger. Karol would need to rest up to 6 times just to climb the last hill up to her house, and sometimes her legs would stiffen up when walking. These new symptoms left Rocío very worried. 
 
Rocía, Karol, and Janet attend a specialist appointment at the doctor's office in Villa María del Triunfo.Rocía, Karol, and Janet attend a specialist appointment at the doctor's office in Villa María del Triunfo.
 
After another trip to the hospital, doctors told Karol that no arrhythmia was detected, and she would more specialized diagnostic tests that public health insurance would not cover. 
 
When Rocío heard about MEDLIFE's mobile clinics, she did not hesitate to get Karol the medical attention she needed. The MEDLIFE doctors immediately put Karol into the patient follow-up program for more personalized attention. Janet Ludeña, the MEDLIFE nurse assigned to the case, has since been able to provide not only counseling and support, but also accompany the family to Karol's appointments to try and determine what condition is affecting her. MEDLIFE was able to provide the funds for the specialized tests, and now, we are waiting for the final diagnosis. Regardless of whether the doctors find a diagnosis of arrhythmia or something else, MEDLIFE will not hesitate to accompany and support the family throughout the entire process.
 
Janet and Karol discuss her medical history during their second patient follow-up-visit.Janet and Karol discuss her medical history during their second patient follow-up-visit.
August 8, 2017 11:26 am

Meet the Patient: Maria Borja

Written by Rosali Vela

mariaborjanono2We first met Maria Borja Nono, age 55, about a year ago when she attended a MEDLIFE Mobile Clinic in the community of Shobol Pamba, Parroquia San Juan, del Cantón Riobamba in Ecuador. She was examined by our gynecologist and found to have a cystocele, a medical condition that occurs when the wall between a woman's bladder and her vagina is torn. This rupture most likely occured during the delivery of one of Maria's 13 children.

Although Ecuadorian laws call for free and universal access to healthcare, the country continues to experience high levels of maternal death and complications from childbirth. Many women from indigenous communities give birth in their houses, due either to the lack of transportation to surrounding hospitals or to the notion that hospitals provide culturally insensitive care.

According to CARE USA, indigenous women are accustomed to being surround by friends and family during childbirth and to giving birth in a vertical position --  customs that are not always allowed in country hospitals. As a result, women do not always know how to identify signs of maternal risk, nor how to seek out help for complications that occur from childbirth.“In all seriousness, I've been in need of having an operation for this problem for over 20 years now,” Maria tells us during our interview with her at her home in Riobamba. “I just could never afford it, especially having so many children to take care of.”mariaborjanono1A typical day for Maria consists of walking a distance of about three miles to and from work where she is a day laborer in a lime mine, coming home to take care of household chores and care for her elderly mother, staying up late to cook the family's meals for the following day, and getting a maximum of four to five hours of sleep per night.

Her husband also works in the mines and has a similarly stressful daily schedule.Once diagnosed at the Mobile Clinic, it was clear that Maria was going to need surgery, and financial assistance to cover the medical costs. Always punctual and cooperative, Maria had eight medical clinic appointments consisting of check-ups and further examinations. She was accompanied to each appointment by MEDLIFE follow-up coordinator, Maria Chavez.

“I met up with Miss Chavez and she helped me through the good and the bad,” Maria told us through tears during our interview. “She helped me. I give thanks to God for her help. Even when my own children couldn't be around because they were working far away, she was there up until the final days. Thank God that even today she is helping me, economically and emotionally.”Prior to her surgery, Maria's tests revealed several complications including vaginitis and possible bladder fistula (an abnormal connection between the bladder and the vagina) for which a cystography was performed. Currently, our patient is relieved of most of the pain and discomfort she had been experiencing and is regularly returning for medical examinations for further alteration of bladder muscles.

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