The last Saturday of the month means different things to different people, for some it’s party time, for others its movie time but for me it’s the time I meet with like-minded people and discuss on how we can contribute our quota to the bleeding health sector, how we can understand the problems of practicing Medicine in a low resource setting and providing workable solutions. The diversity of the disease pattern in Africa and failure of a well-documented or researched approach to combat most of them has always fascinated me. It is perhaps even more intriguing that there are still undiscovered diseases. I have worked as a medical volunteer in a number of south western towns but it was in xxxxxxxx that I found the need for post graduate training in public of International health and tropical Medicine.
xxxxxxxxx is a small town in xxxxxxxx state with a population of about 2500 people, mostly peasant farmers and artisans. Majority of her people live on less than a dollar per day and her primary health centre is an isolated three bed room flat buried amidst a variety of shrubs and weed. In a country where the patient to doctor ratio is 1 to 4000 it is no surprise that there is no primary doctor in this town with a population of over a thousand. The closest they have to good health care are auxillary nurses and people like me when we visit quarterly. I have been going to xxxxxxxx for three years where I along with my team have been able to identify some epidemiological trends in the disease pattern and also identify some occupation associated polyathropathies.
Our emphasis at outreaches at xxxxxxxxxx is on health education and screening for common diseases. We make the health talk interactive and these give us the advantage of correcting a lot of health myths which plagues my society. I have learnt that effective follow up of medical treatment of patients after an outreach session is difficult, that’s why health education and promotion and appropriate referral have been our most effective tool. Good health can only be sustained if a voluntary change in behavior can be evoked. To achieve this, we collate data at the end of the outreaches are presented to the kings and chief to better enable them to govern their people in a healthy way and present the prevalent diseases and the possible outcomes to the people. This is the foundation of public health programmes but one way or the other these highly functioning systems have been lost in the developed cities in Africa.
I have come to learn a great deal about the epidemiological trends of diseases in the suburbs of xxxxxxxxx and this has endeared me to place utmost attention in my medical studies. The more I went for outreaches, the harder I read because understanding the clinical presentations and pathology of diseases is essential in practicing medicine in a low resource country where it is difficult to afford basic investigations and first line treatment. This influenced by academics in numerous ways as I was in the top three positions in all the subjects offered in my University including preventive and social medicine and ended up as the best graduating student of my cohort.
I have had numerous reinforcing experiences which solidified my interest in international health and tropical medicine but the best is my 5 week community health posting at a rural environment, xxxxxxxxxx. I was the group leader and my main role was to lead the team in presenting the research proposal to a panel of professors, assessing the was knowledge, attitude and acceptability of inactivated polio vaccine among care givers of under 5 in xxxxxxxxx , analyzing the data with SPSS and documenting the report of our findings which was well received by the society. This experience assisted me to develop relevant skills in literature review, constructing questionnaires among others. This was my first exposure to a community based research and its effect on decision making. During my medical internship, I was directly involved in treating a lot of patients who presented at a late stage with readily preventable diseases, If only they had been told earlier about the benefit of life style modification and had to spend a lot more money to achieve a palliative treatment.
My choice goes beyond one or numerous touching stories of early onset myocardial infarction. It goes beyond tear soaked ward coats acquired in attempt to pacify mothers of children with congenital heart diseases, it goes beyond the feeling of disappointment on faces of patient when you say the only assistance you can offer to them is wait and hope. It is about bringing a smile to the faces of supposedly nature forsaken people, people who have to deal with the sins of the time past. It is about the unquestionable truth that most times, prevention is cure.
I seek a program which combines the principles I have found most valuable, strong mentors and a place of that strongly supports the inquisitive mind. I want a school that will fine tune me and bring out the best in me. I want teachers a school that will lead me beyond the stars. The University of xxxxxxxx, one of the most prestigious in the world as the university is the school I seek. Its array of numerous Nobel Prize laureates and fellows of various academy of science and its international reputation attracts the best brains in the world and I believe this will be a stimulating environment for me to have my master’s degree. The vibrant student life, excellent working and recreational facilities reflect the commitment of the institution to the graduate student body. The international health and tropical medicine program through its various modules outlines the principles of epidemiology and research. It also sheds light on public policies and the mode of operation of standardized health systems. This knowledge will be valuable to my future career prospect as a preventive cardiologist. It will also further assist with dealing with the peculiarities of health system in developing countries as opposed to the standardized system of health.