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Water access is an issue that communities around Lima continue to face. Development in the slums of Lima happens backwards, in that people move in and then utilities like electricity and water are installed, often times taking years to get a steady access.

The best option in Lima for water is connecting to SEDPAL, the city’s water system, however, many of the communities MEDLIFE works with lack the property rights and thus the legal designation as communities and are not eligible for water from SEDPAL. Communities without access to the city water supply, rely on water tank trucks to visit and deliver water.

Without a steady supply, those living on the outskirts of Lima use tanks and barrels to store their water. Sometimes, the containers were used in the past to store non-potable water or chemicals. These containers also run the risk of contamination from bacteria as they are often not adequately sealed and reused without cleaning.

IMG 9905Tanks being used to store water in Ladera de Nueva Esperanza. The center tank was used to ship food additives originally.

People will buy water directly from the truck and fill in water tanks to use throughout the days between visits. Fabiolo Rosales, a resident of Nadine, lives at the top of hill of her community at the base of a wall built to keep settlements from spreading onto private property. When looking over the wall, she sees the wealthier districts of Lima with access to the city water supply and the occasional swimming pool dotting the cityscape.

“We buy our water for 25 soles and we pay much more than people living on the other side,” Rosales said.

Rosales experience is not uncommon. Buying water from the trucks can cost up to 12 times as much as public water utilities. Along with the money, there is the time spent waiting for a water truck to come and the labor of carrying the water back home. The poor truly pay the most for water.

IMG 9343Private water truck navigate the dirt streets of the hills to sell water to resisdents with no acess to public water.

The problem Laderas de Nuevas Esperanza faces is the road that leads to the community, is narrow and dangerous for the large water trucks to drive up, so often they do not. MEDLIFE worked to build a water reservoir for the community to safely store larger quantities of water between the infrequent visits of water trucks. Residents worry though, that during wet winter season, the truck will not be able to make it up the road.

IMG 9912The water reservoir in Laderas de Nueva Esperanza was completed in January 2017.

“The water truck doesn’t come here often. Sometimes we need to wait for two days starting at 5 am, all day long, waiting for the water truck to come,” Maria Salas, a resident and community leader in Laderas de Nuevas Esperanza said.

The next step in Laderas de Nuevas Esperanza is building a road. MEDLIFE aims to bring more stability in access to water in Laderas de Nuevas Esperanza. With a water reservoir more water can be stored safely and for longer periods of time. A road would bring more frequent trips from water trucks as well as greater access to the community for other services.

 

February 28, 2017 3:30 pm

First week of spring clinics in Lima

Written by Rosali Vela

Last week was the start of MEDLIFE's spring clinic season with 41 volunteers from Queen's and Laurentian Universities of Ontario, Canada. Over the course of 4 days of clinics, the volunteers were able to serve 368 patients around Lima. 

IMG 0995Volunteers visited 4 different communities around Lima.

IMG 0997All 368 patients were able to consult with a doctor. In total, 172 of the patients were children.

IMG 0162290 of the patients recieved medicine after meeting with a doctor.

IMG 0347Gynecologists were able to preform 52 pap smears to screen for cervical cancer.

IMG 0040Dentists and volunteers were able to serve 113 patients throughout the week.

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Volunteers worked with children while parents visited the clinic. They taught handwashing and toothbrushing techniques and handed out 253 toothbrushes.

We thank all volunteers who came out to Lima for a week of learning and serving!

February 23, 2017 3:55 pm

Bringing Doctors to the Patients

Written by Rosali Vela

When running mobile clinics, MEDLIFE aims to provide people from low income communities with primary health care. Cost is a problem in access to health care, but just as important an issue is actually getting into the hospital.

It’s estimated there is 1 doctor for every 20,000 people living on the outskirts of Lima. The time that patients spend with a doctor is a rare moment to talk with a health professional. To give the best possible care to patients MEDLIFE uses doctors and dentists from Lima to staff mobile clinics.

Analida Palacios works as a physician at Clinica Oncologia y Radioterapia, located in the San Borja district of Lima. Her usual place of work is located in a wealthier district of Lima, where patients can afford to be treated in a private clinic and forgo the long waits for service.

IMG 0289Analida in the San Juan de Miraflores district of Lima.

She first heard of MEDLIFE through a co-worker who was working with the group. After hearing about the concept of the mobile clinics, she decided to join herself to provide basic healthcare and consultation to the people in low income areas of Lima.

“We bring medicine, we bring prevention with pap smears and breast exams,” Palacios said. “I think the population will be more prepared.”

Just sitting down and being able to talk to a doctor can be an invaluable experience for those who have little to no access to healthcare. It is not uncommon for doctors working clinics to meet with patients with health problems ranging from diabetes and breast cancer that have gone untreated for years.

Although, Palacios is not following up with the patient's herself, she is the first contact they have with MEDLIFE and sometimes, any health care at all. In the private clinic where she works across the city, Palacios is able to use ultrasounds and labtests to diagnose and treat patients.  As MEDLIFE is travelling to different communities it is up to the doctors working the clinic to determine if a patient needs further attention, through conversations and basic health checkups.

“You can do the basic stuff, but you can also speak with the patient and the family,” Palacios said.

IMG 0155When travelling to communities, Analida Palacios determines which patients need to go on to seek additional care from hospitals or clinics with MEDLIFE's assistance.

Palacios says she looks for signs that would point to a diagnosis while taking in what the patients tell her about their symptoms and lifestyle. If a patient needs further attention, they are admitted to the follow-up program, where a nurse working full time with MEDLIFE will accompany them to hospital and clinic visits to get the care they need.

“If we don’t come here with this type of medicine, nobody will,” Palacios said.

February 22, 2017 10:50 am

The challenge of getting to the hospital

Written by Sam Roberson

In the weeks following MEDLIFE’s mobile clinics, nurses are busy traveling door to door to patients homes to follow up with those who need further care after the clinics. This is the second step. After the medical clinic has come to the patients, the nurses will come to patient's home to talk more about treatments.

In the community of San Martin, Carmen, a MEDLIFE nurse, talks to an woman in her sixties through the door of her bodega. She had visited a mobile clinic in her neighborhood and this is her first meeting with a nurse to choose to become part of MEDLIFE’s patient follow-up program. Carmen explains her symptoms could be indicative of breast cancer and she should have a mammogram.

“What do I have to do?”, the woman responds.

It’s a valid question. MEDLIFE aims to break down the barriers to healthcare, the most obvious being the monetary, but long waits, transportation and  A trip to a clinic or hospital can mean a day away from the responsibilities at home or work, a steep cost to those living in poverty.

Carmen tells her a MEDLIFE nurse would accompany her to visits and assist with paperwork. She decides to join the follow up program to get a mammogram.

554 hospital visits Those living in the outskirts of Lima can have a long journey without paved roads into the city for an appointment.  

For Luis Oyolo, a trip to the hospital is a family affair. Luis must use a wheelchair due to a fracture in his vertebrae. He typically has at least two family members accompanying him to visits, for loading in and out of taxis and navigating the curbs and bumps of Lima.

Many taxis will choose to not transport Luis due to the burden of loading and unloading the wheelchair. MEDLIFE is able to cover most of the cost of the taxi, but the cost of time used by Luis and family members spending most of their day in a waiting room is still there.

Luis waits anxiously with his father and brother for a consultation in the National Institute of Rehabilitation in the south of Lima. This is the only hospital with a rehabilitation program close to where Luis and his family live. The waiting area is full of patients, young and old, waiting for an appointment as well, most accompanied by family. When Luis is called in, they spring at their chance to talk to a doctor.

“I was first hospitalized in a hospital very close to my home, but unfortunately not all hospitals are the same,” Luis said. “I was in a hospital for 20-30 days, where the doctors did not come, they did not see me, they did not take care of me.”

Finding a hospital with the right care and ease of access for a patient is crucial for a long term solution. Although it is Luis says this hospital is still close to his home, making a physical rehabilitation program one step easier. Throughout his rehabilitation, a MEDLIFE nurse will work with Luis, helping to sort out the various papers and forms.

MEDLIFE can cover almost the entire cost hospital visits and operations, although even with funding, the daunting task of navigating the Peruvian healthcare system can keep those who need care out of hospitals and clinics. One of the most valuable services MEDLIFE nurses give to patients acting as a guide to the healthcare system and accompanying them to check ups and procedures.


Money is not the only barrier to healthcare. To fully address the problem of healthcare access in a sustainable way, local and personal difficulties must also be taken into account.

February 14, 2017 9:06 am

A Sandwich Cart for Nataly

Written by Jake Kincaid

The inauguration was an emotional moment for everyone. Nataly would finally be able to support her family and care for her children. Her son lost his arm three years ago in an accident with a cane cutting machine (full story here.) Nataly's family went under financially trying to cover the cost of the medical bills from the accident. Nataly told us the best thing for her would be able to work close enough to her home to still care for her kids. One of the pillars of the MEDLIFE ideology is sustainable development and support, therefore, MEDLIFE made it our mission to make this hope of Nataly's a reality. The MEDLIFE summer interns from 2016 fundraised for the project, and last week we delivered the cart to Nataly! 

IMG 9454MEDLIFE Nurse Carmen picks out a cart.

IMG 9505MEDLIFE Yearlong interns arrive for the inaugeration.

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 IMG 9563The inaugeration was an emotional day for everyone.

IMG 9620Cooking the first french fries on her new cart!

 

 MEDLIFE recently completed our second of two massive staircases in Ecuador, drastically improving access to the community of Llinllin Santa Fe. The path is used by the communities school children to get to school, and now they can safely descend the mountainside to their school. 

IMG 6371The project required lots of teamwork between volunteers and locals, and was constructed over the course of 8 MEDLIFE volunteer trips.

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IMG 6348Volunteers helped carry bags of cement and rocks for the base up the hillside.

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IMG 6546 The view from the hillside was spectacular!

IMG 6555The staircase was built over a very steep section of hillside!

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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.

IMG 9444

            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 26, 2017 4:30 pm

Intern Journal: Joe Comer

Written by

 

2017 01 17 1

Back in November, I passed my first MEDLIFE Chapter up (meaning a school I had been working with fulfilled all the requirements to be an official MEDLIFE Chapter). I had worked with a student who wanted to bring MEDLIFE to their own campus for the past two months. Through emails and phone calls, we were able to figure out how to get students on their campus involved in the MEDLIFE movement. I’m happy to have passed them on. I’m proud of their hard work and the dedication they’ve shown to MEDLIFE. As an Expansion Intern, this is exactly what I’ve been working towards here in Peru. And it’s gotten me thinking about my time in school with my own MEDLIFE Chapter.

My involvement with MEDLIFE started long before I ever stepped on a plane headed to Peru. As a college Freshman, I went to my first MEDLIFE Chapter meeting at the University of Georgia. I sat in the back with a few friends who originally invited me. Initially I was only looking for an opportunity to serve in my local community and at my college, to volunteer with my friends and other people looking to make a difference. During the meeting’s explanation of what MEDLIFE is and what the Chapter did, I realized that MEDLIFE was exactly the type of organization I had been looking for.

I was heavily involved with the UGA MEDLIFE Chapter from that point forward, serving on the Executive Board for three years. I helped spread the MEDLIFE Movement on our campus. I attended meetings where I learned more about Global Health issues. I fundraised with my chapter through concerts, 5Ks, and selling scarves. I volunteered countless hours in my community. I participated on a Mobile Clinic to Lima, Peru (not knowing that I would be returning). All along the way, my passion for serving those in need grew. MEDLIFE provided me the perfect outlet for this passion, as I was able to serve those in my local and global communities.

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MEDLIFE serves those who would often otherwise go unnoticed and ignored. We provide essential medical care through our Mobile Clinics and Patient Follow-Up programs. We work closely with communities to plan and produce development projects according to their needs. We work year round to ensure those living in these communities have better access to MEDs: Medicine, Education, and Development. But MEDLIFE couldn’t do all of that without MEDLIFE Chapters and Volunteers.

So I’m here to get people involved. I want MEDLIFE to be more than the organization that provides essential care. I want it to be a movement. I want volunteers to be able to do more than just volunteer abroad. I want them to be able to volunteer at home too. By working to establish new chapters, I’m hoping to bring the core values of MEDLIFE to college campuses and students around the world. I want others to discover the same passion for serving that I found.

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.

 

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