This Winter clinic season MEDLIFE performed around 300 pap smears in Lima and 270 in Ecuador to screen for cervical cancer.

In Ecuador our nurses deliver the results to community leaders, who hand out the results. In Lima, we used to rely on community leaders to hand out the results of the tests, but we realized the results were not always getting to our patients.

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            Our nurses decided that the only way to make sure their patients got the results was to deliver them themselves. They go community by community and call each patient to get them their results. They then explain the results to each patient and leave them their phone number so they can get in touch if they have questions.

            Pap smears are an important screening for cervical cancer and can catch the disease while it is still treatable. They also test for various kinds of infections. Many of the women in our communities have never gotten a test nor are they aware of why they should get them. When we have a patient with an infection of some kind, we give them a prescription for the medicine they need. If they test positive for cancer, we get them an appointment with an oncologist and accompany them. Luckily, no one has tested positive for cancer yet this season.

Getting the tests in our Mobile Clinics gets them that first test, but it also serves the purpose of teaching patients about cervical cancer and why it is important to get yearly tests.

MEDprograms was initially concerned when they noticed the number of pap smears going down in the communities the more we visited. But after speaking with the women in the community, we learned that they had taken up the habit of getting a yearly test on their own. Medlife’s educational approach is working!

            As more women get tested regularly in our Mobile Clinics, we expect to see fewer cases of untreatable cervical cancer and more women getting tested regularly in the future!

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January 23, 2017 1:36 pm

A Home for Rosa Morocho

Written by Jake Kincaid

IMG 9830Nicol Morocho sneaks out to get a popcicle while she waits with her mom at a medical clinic.

     Every morning Nicol, a bubbly nine-year old Peruvian girl, descends the hill she lives on alone to get to school. She says goodbye to her mom Rosa, who sits on a rug next to the bed in the middle of their one room home. Nicol will return later with food for both of them, and she knows her mom will still be there when she gets back- because Rosa cannot leave her house on her own.

IMG 9800Rosa on the cushion where she spends much of her time.

     Rosa has never been able to walk and is barely able to use her right arm. She has had this handicap since she was a child, but has never had a diagnosis.

     MEDLIFE met Rosa while working on the water tank project in Laderas. She lives next to where the tank was constructed, and as MEDLIFE staff worked on the tank, they also got to know Rosa and her daughter Nicol.

     Nicol has assumed a lot of the responsibility of caring for her when she is not in school. Bringing her mother food from the comedor (government subsidized restaurant) and markets, assisting her with all daily tasks.

    Rosa lives high in Lima’s hills and getting to and from her house is extremely difficult. She didn’t leave the hill she lives on for the entire Peruvian winter, because the steep dirt road gets too wet and slick for a car to drive up or to push her wheelchair up. The last time she went down the hill her brother took her to see Nicol’s dance performance.

    Rosa cannot afford to live somewhere more accessible, she survives on what her brothers, who live nearby can give her.

    Hoping that perhaps some medical procedure could improve her condition, MEDLIFE took her to a doctor in January of 2017. Getting Rosa to and from the hospital was very difficult, even with three people to help push and carry her up and down the steep dirt paths. We couldn’t get a cab to take us that high on the hill after the appointment, so we had to trick cab drivers, knowing they would feel too guilty to abandon us on the hillside with Rosa. It was the only way we could get her home.

IMG 9864IMG Rosa and Nicol wait in the clinic to get an X-Ray with MEDLIFE nurse Beatriz.

 

IMG 9901Beatriz hoists Rosa onto the x-ray machine.

     When we reached the final steep pitch up to Rosa’s home, the wheels of the taxi spun-out as the driver cursed at us in Spanish. We had to get out and push Rosa up ourselves. Thankfully, the road was dry. 

IMG 9922Pushing Rosa up the hill.

       The trip was worth it. After getting an X-ray, Rosa finally learned the cause of her condition. She was a victim of Polio, a virus that in some cases can spread to the nervous system causing irreparable damage and paralysis.

     Polio has been eradicated by vaccines in the majority of the world. The last case reported in the United States was in 1979, but cases continued appearing in Peru until 1991. In Rosa’s case, it cost her the use of both her legs and one arm.

     While there is no medical procedure that will give Rosa more independence, we can adapt her environment to suit her needs.

     MEDLIFE architect, Edinson Aliaga, is working on designing a special house for her that will give her more independence. When her daughter, Nicol, is at school, Rosa is on her own. She can move by crawling on the floor with her one useable arm, but nothing in her home is designed to be used by someone who cannot stand up.

IMG 0008 2Edinson talks with Nicole to gain insight for his design.

     Edinson is designing the home with one key design mantra: “Everything possible needs to be low to the ground.”

     For example, Edinson has designed a table in the kitchen so that the Rosa can sit on the floor and Nicol in a chair while they both eat off of the same table together. The entire home is being designed with this concept. Light switches close to the ground, a handicapped bathroom, a sink to wash-up with close to the ground and ramps instead of stairs.

16196163 10155090291586454 821560638 o 1Here is a rough draft of the design for the kitchen. You can see the design for the table that will let Nicole and Rosa sit together.

    This new home can make a huge difference in the lives of Rosa and Nicole, giving them more freedom, comfort, and independence. Please help us make this dream a reality by donating here.

 

January 19, 2017 1:36 pm

House Clean-up Project in Cusco

Written by Jake Kincaid

   In the 2017 winter clinic season MEDLIFE Cusco began to help organize, renovate and clean people's houses alongside our fuel efficient stove project. The effort was a great success, leaving community members with nicer homes while fostering connection and cultural exchange between volunteers and locals. We also worked to improve sanitation by enouraging better hygiene practices like, for example, encouraging people to not keep livestock in their kitchens.

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We worked closely with community members to make their homes a better living space.

IMG 5001Volunteers sanded and painted walls.

IMG 5035They organized belongings.

IMG 5222There were holes in walls that needed to be filled.

 

 IMG 5101Before the renovation project.

 IMG 5105Volunteers beginning to clear away clutter and start cleaning.

 IMG 6095Walls were painted, shelves were put on and belongings were organized.

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IMG 6578Volunteers worked closely with home owners to improve living spaces.

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IMG 7205The finished homes looked beautiful!

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IMG 7222He is the first in his family to stay in school at his age, and was kind enough to write and read a poem to thank the group for their work.

 

Last friday, the community of Laderas Nueva Esperanza was able to inaugurate a new water reservoir. The project was the result of three years of collaboration between MEDLIFE, leaders from Laderas and the sponsorship of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of California-Berkeley MEDLIFE chapters. Through fundraising efforts and donations, the UW-Madison and UC Berkeley chapters were able to contribute to the project and members were present to witness the inauguration.


Laderas, located in the foothills of Lima, is not serviced by SEDAPAL, the city water supply of Lima, and relied on purchasing water from private vendors at a higher price. The water reservoir will help the community by allowing them to store more water in a clean and sanitary facility.

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The new water reservoir in Laderas Nueva Esperanza.

IMG 6849A band played to celebrate the completion of the new water reservoir.

IMG 6870The University of Wisconsin-Madison helped fundraise for the construction of the water reservoir.

IMG 6792Volunteers from UC Berkley and UW Madison celebrate with Laderas Nueva Esperanza.

December 22, 2016 8:29 am

Mapping Bathroom and Staircase Projects

Written by Jake Kincaid

MEDLIFE has completed over 207 projects in Peru and 74 in Ecuador. Many of these projects are either Stair Cases or Hygiene projects, both of which have been a core component of MEDLIFE’s work from the beginning.

The majority of these projects had GPS coordinates saved for them in an archive. We decided to map them to get a sense of the scope of MEDLIFE’s between 2004 and 2017. Included in the map are the locations of most of the staircases, bathrooms, and a few school projects. Keep in mind, around 100 projects are missing from this map because we don’t have the coordinates. Can you find the project from your Mobile Clinic? Look for the year and month of the clinic.

In the steep hillsides of Villa Maria de Triunfo and San Juan De Miraflores, a simple concrete staircase can change lives. Families living in the area have no access to running water and instead are forced to haul buckets back and forth to their houses from large plastic containers filled daily by passing trucks. This task is not only time consuming but incredibly dangerous as the damp winter climate transforms the roads and pathways into slippery, eroding descents.

Adults and children alike are slowed down by the downward climb on their way to school and work, and fall-related injuries are common and costly. By building stairs, MEDLIFE is able to make the cumbersome daily journey easier, safer, and faster. It also is an important step in securing land titles and access to the public water system.

In 2011, The World Health Organization (WHO) declared diarrhoeal diseases to be the second leading cause of death in low-income countries. The WHO and UNICEF estimate that functional, clean bathrooms can reduce cases of diarrhea by more than 33%; simply being able to wash your hands with soap can reduce cases of diarrhea by more than 40%. Yet, for approximately 2.5 billion people, or 35% of the world's population, there is no functioning bathroom at all. If rural areas do not have functioning facilities, they are slower to be expanded upon and improved.

For MEDLIFE Ecuador, bathroom construction projects are an integral part of the health care work that we do. Projects are typically focused on rural, majority indigenous communities on the outskirts of cities. These areas are geographically isolated from access to reliable potable water and improved sanitation.

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