We are beginning our second and last week in Punta Gorda, Belize. As any Canadian knows, the weather is always a topic of discussion but for us – there is only one descriptor for every day here – it is HOT!
Our students are all performing at a high level on their projects and despite a number of challenges, they support and encourage one another.
I was aware before this trip that the Belizean health care system is quite different from what we are used to in Nova Scotia. One of our partners for this project is The Hillside Clinic, which is staffed by volunteer health professionals. This clinic provides much needed medical/nursing/rehabilitative and home health services but… it’s not nearly enough. Hillside has offered an amazing opportunity for our students from the Pharmacy Tech and Practical Nursing programs. Late last week, I saw a 3yr old girl at the clinic with a very involved infection in her thigh. It had spread to her groin area, involved the lymph nodes and was clearly moving towards the abdominal cavity. The attending physician consulted with the clinic medical director to determine the best course of action. Everyone agreed that in Canada this child would be admitted to hospital, have intravenous antibiotics started immediately and have the site of the infection lanced and drained in an operating room. However, this would not be possible here. Instead, she was given an injectable antibiotic and her Mom was given instructions to bring her back the next day for another injection. Everyone was aware that this wasn’t optimal but it was available. I looked forward to seeing the little girl the next day and hoped there would be some improvement in her condition. She didn’t come back. Compliance for treatment is an issue in any health setting but the overarching issues here are that needed health care for many people in this part of Belize is not adequate and Hillside Clinic cannot provide everything to everyone.
There is definitely a difference in “knowing” other parts of the world have different health care standards and then witnessing that reality up close and personal. Students are not the only ones here that are learning and growing!
School of Health & Human Services