Ana is three years old and she fell and broke a limb while playing with her siblings. Discouraged by long line-ups at the hospital at the nearest town, her parents opted to return to their village and consult the healing arts of the local "bone healer."
When I visited the home a few days after the incident, Ana's arm had not been immobilized in any way, and instead of pain medication she was receiving antibiotics, despite the absence of skin wounds or any sign of infection. My encouragement to Ana's mother to return to the hospital for a proper examination was hollow. She knew enough that doctors would want to take an x-ray which meant traveling another three hours to reach the nearest x-ray machine, incurring costs the family simply could not afford. The public hospital in Nebaj actually has an x-ray machine, but lacks the stable electricity to run it. Such are the challenges of health care delivery in many areas of the world.
Soon, at least some of the local hospital's equipment and supply needs will be met by a shipment from Canada. FH Canada (Canadian Food for the Hungry) has a warehouse in Saskatoon where used hospital equipment and material is collected from across the country. A team of biomedical technicians then refurbishes the equipment and ships them to other parts of the world where it can be put to good use.
We look forward to a 40 foot container arriving to Nebaj in the next few months which should have items such as beds, an operating table, microscopes, an ultrasound machine, a dental chair, and yes, maybe even an x-ray machine with a built in voltage regulator! It's been a privilege to aid in this process of matching need with the resources back home.
Check out our IMED program at http://www.fhcanada.org/medical