From Google’s official blog yesterday, Google announced at the opening ceremonies of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) that they would be providing $1 million in charitable grants to support the relief efforts in Pakistan. The announcement mentions Real Medicine along with the 8 other non-profit organizations that Google has chosen to be partners in their first round of support. We again are very thankful and proud that Google has chosen us to be one of their partners in this ongoing relief effort in Pakistan.
Our project in South Sudan, the new Juba College of Nursing and Midwifery, continues to gain momentum and vital support, with Southern Sudan’s current Minister of Health, Dr. Luka Monoja, visiting the first student class at the temporary College campus in Juba. The Juba College of Nursing and Midwifery is a new professional level 3 year college degree program supported by a consortium of stakeholders: Real Medicine Foundation, World Children’s Fund, UNFPA, UNDP, World Health Organization, Japan International Cooperation Agency, and the government of South Sudan.
Dr. Monoja was accompanied by the Undersecretary Dr. Olivia Lomoro and various other government officials. He indicated the importance and deep need for this level of trained Nurses and Midwives in Southern Sudan, and also stressed the how this particular institution is not only important to his heart but also to the Ministry of Health for the sustainable capacity building of professional health care providers.
He also mentioned that the need for skilled birth attendants through the training of midwives at the College is geared specifically toward reducing Sudan’s very high maternal mortality rates. Though the establishment of the college was long overdue he was glad that Southern Sudan can boast of having one now.
The clinic that started it all off for RMF, more than 5 years ago in Tangalle, Sri Lanka, continues to thrive and provide, community outreach and health education programs to Yayawatta Village and the surrounding areas. These areas have still barely gotten back on their feet after the complete destruction of many surrounding villages and infrastructure 5 years ago by the Tsunami. The clinic’s main beneficiaries include the population of Seenimodara, Kadurupokuna and Palapotha.
Having this convenient access to free healthcare is especially important for the areas young mothers, children, and the elderly. During the last 3 month period of March, April and May a total of 642 patients were evaluated and treated at our free clinic. The diseases we see most frequently here are upper and lower respiratory tract infections, viral fevers, gastrointestinal tract infections, heart disease, hypertensive disorders, skin diseases and different forms of arthritis.
Our staff also periodically conducts field visits of the Nursing Officer from the Government Health Authority which continues to provide important information for mothers about proper methods of family planning.
This series of video clips was shot by RMF’s Kevin Connell in the St. Pierre Square tent camp in Petionville, an upper-class neighborhood of Port-au-Prince. This is a small tent camp set up in a public square but one of the largest tent camps in the city is located on a nearby golf course with an estimated 50,000 people occupying. Voluntary settlements like these were setup in virtually every square or open space in the city after the disaster. These clips gives you a little more insight into the living conditions that most of the Haitians displaced by the earthquake are still dealing with. Little has been done to create any longer term housing solutions, but as you can see from these video clips the Haitian’s are still making the best of a very tough situation.
Real Medicine Foundation continues to provide physical and emotional support to children and adults within the greater Los Angeles area. With our children’s programs, this past month we focused on how to approach situations which can cause a great deal of stress within our everyday lives. Most of the children who participate in our programs are being raised by family members other than their parents, and are at high risk for future physical and psychological problems.
Our workshop “Turning lemons into lemonade” gave the children the opportunity to discuss different situations which can cause stress, and then invited them to explore and create their own problem solving techniques. The majority of children we work with are faced with extremely difficult situations due to demographics based on socioeconomic status. Their neighborhoods are unsafe, schools are overcrowded and there is little or no access to enrichment programs which would help relieve the stressors created in these environments.
We have noticed an increase in the number of children with a high BMI index, due primarily to lack of nutritional education coupled with the inaccessibility of fresh produce and whole grain foods. Real Medicine Foundation offers Adult & Child Health & Fitness education workshops along with a food donation program 5 days a week which provides organic produce and food donated from Whole Foods Markets, Venice, California, in an effort to assist in meeting the needs of this community.
As we pause to mark the somber six month anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti and the 230,000 lives lost, it is worth noting not only the significant achievements of the international aid community but also how dire the situation remains and the immense challenges that lie ahead. Most of the 1.5 million Haitians that were left homeless are still living in the immense tent cities due to sheer scale of the logistical and legal challenges of rebuilding literally hundreds of buildings on mostly private property. The health care system is still in tatters, and struggling to keep up with the contstant flow of new patients from these tent cities. Much of the money raised in the initial weeks for rebuilding is still sitting on the sidelines with no clear way to spend it. With no easy solutions on the horizon to re-house this immense displaced population the repairing and re-growth of the health and education systems are more important than ever. Knowing that it will take many more months for any kind of progress on the resettlement of these people living in tent cities, RMF is committed more than ever to concentrating on the rebuilding of a sustainable health care system to care for this immense displaced population.
The living conditions in many of these tent cities with rubble everywhere, limited sanitation options, and very little protection from the heavy rains common this time of year presents a variety of hazards for these people every day, resulting in multiple injuries and deaths. Little Chon Oxius, 11 months old, is one of them, and a few weeks ago he came to see Dr. Margaret Degand, RMF’s partner doctor at the Lambert Santé Hospital’s free clinic, with severe burn trauma complications.
Dr. Degand or “Maggie”, as she is fondly referred to is Lambert’s Santé’s Medical Director and founder and one of nation’s top clinicians and plastic surgeon. Dr. Degand spontaneously opened her private surgical clinic in Pétion-Ville to all the victims of the quake at no cost working tirelessly around the clock for days and weeks to hundreds that came to her clinic desperate for emergency care. With continued financial support and volunteer assistance, she has been managing to keep her public clinic open. She shares RMF’s vision to increase the overall quality and accessibility of patient care to the public during this crisis. In May 2010, Maggie entered into official partnership with RMF to continue offering Public Care.
Once a month, Real Medicine Foundation in collaboration with Health Net provides adult workshops educating the community of South Los Angeles on the benefits of living a “healthy lifestyle”. Health Net’s Andy Padilla and I engage the participants in low-impact exercises, many performed while sitting and utilizing resistance bands to increase their effectiveness. Discussions include the risks of smoking, alcohol and drug abuse along with healthy eating habits to lower cholesterol levels, risk of diabetes and heart disease.
On May 26th, Real Medicine Foundation and its partner, Jeevan Jyoti Health Service Society, inaugurated the first of two “Drop in Centers” for Female Sex Workers (FSWs) under our HIV/AIDS Targeted Intervention with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Located in Meghnagar at the crossroads of the bus-station and next to the train station, the Drop in Centre is a place where women can come to feel safe, exchange information, receive information and counseling about HIV/AIDS, get referrals for testing, get condoms, come to classes or information sessions about HIV/AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and general women’s health. It will also be the location for weekly clinic hours by a local OB-GYN and quarterly, large scale, health camps.
In addition to the HIV/AIDS, STI and health information, we are hoping that the women will make this space their own. Our six dynamic peer counselors helped pick out the new paint, provided some basic furniture, and put posters on the walls to make is more homely.
It has recently been estimated that there are approximately 2.8 million female sex workers in India, an estimated 36% of whom are under the age of 18. These women are some of the most vulnerable in India to HIV/AIDS and STIs and some of the most underserved, especially in rural areas where their networks are more difficult to target and their access to health services most limited.
Real Medicine Foundation is proud to announce that we’ve tied up with UNFPA and our local partner Jeevan Jyoti Health Service Society to provide access to HIV/AIDS, STI, and basic women’s health services for some of the most vulnerable female sex workers in the country. Our goal is to provide these women with the knowledge and tools to prevent HIV/AIDS and STIs and also to provide and facilitate access to counseling, testing and treatment when required.
We will be working in two districts, Jhabua and Nimach in Western Madhya Pradesh where we are targeting two very different communities, the Banchhara tribal community in Nimach where sex work has been an accepted community tradition for generations, and the tribal communities in Jhabua, where female sex workers have mobile networks of regular clients. While both communities are located in “low prevalence” areas, they are extremely vulnerable to HIV, the Banchhara because of their location on one of the most congested trucking routes in the country, the Bhils because of high levels of migration in their area, and both because of their low literacy rates and scarcity of health services.
Upon returning from Port-au-Prince, Michael became friends with one of the many victims that experienced tragedies beyond measure: “I went to help with the relocated patients placed on the lawn in front of the post-op ward. It was there that I met Stancia. Stancia lost everything – her whole family, her husband, her children and her house.
She lay alone in the Dominican Republic with crushed legs, not knowing how to start over. Her first words to me are – “I am dead. I have lost everything, my family, my husband and children and my house. It is just me and God……..and you. You are my family now.”
Please help us to provide Stancia with hope and the support to start her life over.