Personal matters

 

We were privileged to be able to start our day in Port Antonio with a brief presentation about febrile seizures to the doctors and nurses on staff at the hospital. While febrile seizures are quite a common issue for us as pediatricians, they can be daunting for doctors who are not as familiar with kids. A lively discussion followed the presentation (as are most discussions in Jamaica) and we all walked away with a deeper understanding of practicing medicine effectively with the resources available.

That being said, now that we’ve been in Jamaica for almost three weeks, I feel that poverty has become personal. There are now names and faces and images that come to mind when I think about “resource poor settings.” It is the legs of a child with a bacterial superinfection that has been ineffectively treated for months with an antibiotic known to have a high level of resistance because there was nothing else available. It is the back of an ambulance equip with little more than a pair of latex gloves, a bag of expired normal saline, and a small sliver of hope that anything useful would be able to be accomplished should a true emergency arise. It is the mother of an asthmatic who fashioned a spacer out of plastic cups because she couldn’t afford one but acknowledges its importance for her child’s health. And while these disparities become personal, they also become impossible to ignore.

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