My experience on the GSP Mobile Medical Clinic
On Friday, February 8th, I spent the day on the mobile medical clinic with Dr. Andrea Vital and Dr. Lyall Black in the village of San Francisco el Alto. Felisa Utuy Alvarez spent the day with us interpreting from the Kiche Maya language into Spanish. She had her happy 7 month old boy, Sergio with her. When I commented on his disposition, Dr Vital replied that he was happy because he was healthy. Unlike this bubbly infant, many children are under-nourished, their sad eyes and listlessness telling of their hardships. Approximately 60 villagers visited the bus presenting with a variety of health problems, most of them directly related to extreme poverty and poor living conditions.
Scabies were extremely common – the worst case, a 2 month old boy whose chest and back were covered with scabies. Not only did this baby have scabies, they were infected. The clinic could only treat the infection as the scabies treatment was not available. GSP provided some funds and the scabies treatments was purchased and arrived in the afternoon.
Sore backs and shoulders, headaches, stiff necks and arthritis are very common among adult men and women, again related to the hardships of daily life. Women carry babies and children on their backs, most of the day as they work. Both men and women carry loads that are unbelievably heavy. Think of carrying a third of a face cord of wood on your back.
Patients presenting with swollen abdomens and diarrhea were treated for parasites, an on-going problem. A 30 year old female epileptic visiting the clinic was returning for follow-up of an extensive facial burn. Drugs to control her epilepsy were not available to her and she’d fallen into a fire during a seizure. The wound was healing well considering the limited resources available to Dr. Vital. Respiratory problems continue to be a major issue. Many still do not have stoves and continue to cook on open fires in their homes. The environment is extremely dusty; most homes have dirt floors and the dust stirred up from the fields and roads is continuous. It became clear as the day progressed how difficult life is in the village of San Francisco el Alto. Still these people complain little and are always very polite and grateful.