by Gini Ikwuezunma
College of Medicine student
The global crisis has created a cascade of events that transcends the
often myopic view of the average individual. As we battle soaring
unemployment rates here in the states, nations, governments,
communities and families around the world grapple on the brink of
hunger and extinction. They find solace with meager wages to support
themselves and care for their families. Yet they wonder what fate holds
for them, when the next economic plunge ensues. The uncertainty is
an American of Nigerian descent, I witnessed the dire situation in
Africa through the helpless eyes of a child. It has been six years
since I last went to my ancestral homeland. Many of my relatives who
were remnants of my fond childhood memories have died from substandard
health conditions and preventable diseases. Armed with a stethoscope
and a camera, I plan to revisit Africa as a more knowledgeable medical
student and get the word out about the situation from the field,
inspire others, and discover where my skills may be of use.
This summer, I am following the footsteps of one of my favorite heroes,
protagonist Matt Parkman; and taking my “spirit walk,” and trekking to
aid in medical mission work in Africa. The first portion of my trip
will be in Masindi, Uganda through Palmetto Medical Initiative (PMI), (http://www.palmettomedical.org).
In Masindi, I will join more than 70 other medical students, faculty
and local medical practitioners from the Lowcountry to provide clinical
treatment to more than 5,000 villagers. It is the second mission for
PMI. During its first mission in March, 25 medical students and
clinicians treated 1,100 villagers in four days. We plan to multiply
that by five during this trip.
After spending two weeks in Uganda, I will head to Tanzania with
Madaktari, (http://www.madaktari.com), an unprecedented physician
training mission founded and orchestrated by MUSC’s top neurosurgeons,
Dilan Ellegala, M.D., and Sunil Patel, M.D. In Tanzania, I plan to
spend about a month conducting outcomes research focused on creating
sustainable specialty health care in Africa.
While In Africa, I also will visit Muhumbili Orthopedic Institute (MOI)
in Dar es Salaam and hope to scrub in for a few procedures.
Learning from the field abroad
As a medical student, I have been interested in cardiology, but after
my first year, the possibilities of impacting the field of medicine
have been expanded to surgery. I also am increasingly interested in
orthopaedics as I learn about the increasing mortality due to vehicular
accidents abroad. Both paths align with my experiences as a collegiate
athlete at the University of Georgia and community work through Alpha
Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. This experience abroad would provide me with
an opportunity to affect positive change through urban and global
health policy while developing programs focused on youth advocacy.
On the move
Despite the recent economic obstacles, Africa is on the move. Hope
drives innovation. Many change agents are vying for an opportunity to
elevate the people of this continent to independence by utilizing
common interests, galvanizing new relationships, sharing ideas and
using social media such as Facebook. I hope to help them, and in the
process document my trip and honor these unsung leaders who are doing
As we address the issues created by the financial market meltdown, the
health and psyche of thousands, quite possibly millions, slowly
deteriorates. The people of Africa are in dire need of assistance and
hope. They deserve our help. Their stories must be told, their voices
heard and their health needs must be met.
This is “the road less traveled.” I am not capable of succeeding alone.
For information, call (678) 938-4443; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students return to Uganda as part of clinical mission
by Mary Helen Yarborough
No flip-flops and bathing suits, but lots of insect repellant, patience
and dedication are what MUSC medical missionaries will pack on a May
mission in Masindi, Uganda.
the second mission in as many months, more than 70 medical students,
physicians, nurses and health professionals (i.e. physical therapists)
will endure the African heat and rough terrain to treat more than 5,000
In March, 25 MUSC students, including Will Carroll, Monique Huynh, and
Brian Blaker; participated in the Palmetto Medical Initiative (PMI)
through which 1,100 villagers received treatment for various diseases
and injuries in four days. Common types of conditions and diseases
treated have included malaria, trachoma (eye infection), typhoid fever,
hypertension, diarrhea, and head injuries.
Part of the Medical Campus Outreach conducted by the East Cooper
Baptist Church in Mount Pleasant, PMI was founded by Ed O’Bryan, M.D.,
Veterans Administration staff physician and clinical instructor in
MUSC’s Department of Medicine.
Participants have included MUSC students and local medical
practitioners. Soon students from the University of South Carolina are
expected to participate, according to Marianne Heis, a PMI spokesperson.
PMI mission participants work from a small, one-story building under an
agreement with the Ugandan health ministry. PMI has a five-year
commitment through the church there to provide continued care through
the Uganda mission.
More information on PMI and journals of students’ experiences in Uganda can be obtained at http://www.palmettomedical.org/Palmettomedical.org/Welcome.html.
Friday, May 8, 2009