Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Kote ki pa gen dokte

By Britt:

I received a really nice comment on my previous post from a lady who works for the Hesperian Foundation,the people who publish Where There Is No Doctor.

Here's some quick facts about the book:

It is a "village healthcare book" and is aimed at providing health care information in simple language for communities without available healthcare. (Or for untrained persons attempting to provide healthcare, like me) It has been translated into over 75 languages. In the book, the following areas are covered:

Diagnosing and treating common medical problems and diseases
Special emphasis on prevention
Effective examination techniques
Home cures
Correct usage of medicines and their precautions
Caring for children and elders
First aid
And a special section for rural healthcare workers.

I use the book mainly for new things when I don't know what to do or what they are. Because of the book, we have successfully diagnosed and been treating our first case of impetigo. That was really cool and totally impossible had we not had the book as a reference. We were then able to show the Creole translation that we have to the mom of the little boy with impetigo, so that she could better understand what was going on. I am not able to do this a lot, because at least half of the entire population is illiterate (and obviously, the literacy is going to be lower the more rural the location).

I have also used the Creole translation in attempt to prove certain 'beliefs' wrong.

After Krispe had a seizure, we were trying to figure out how we could better monitor him - when and how often he has seizures or if he got something to eat each day. (Krispe lives in Barbancourt, which from here is about a half-hour walk through hot & humid banana tree fields) We thought about finding someone in the village that he could stay with, or maybe a room of someone's house that they would rent-out.

My dad was discussing this with Tipap and Pastor Rony. They said that this was a great idea, but that no one would let him stay with them because they (everyone) think he is contagious. My dad asked Rony if he believed that too, to which Rony replied something along the lines of "I cannot get it because Jesus will protect me." My dad said "Yeah Rony, that -- AND it is not contagious!" So ... you can see why Krispe is an outcast. He is treated as a leper. They all believe they can catch what he has, both the leg ulcer and the Epilepsy.

I opened up the Creole translation of the book and found where Epilepsy was described. I had Tipap and Rony read the page and especially the sentence that says "Malkadi pa yon enfeksyon, se pa yon maladi atrapan" : Epilepsy is not an infection and cannot be 'caught'. I don't know if they believe me or the book, but at least I could use it in attempt to make the truth known.

Simple things that might seem obvious aren't always common knowledge here. Things like : wash your sheets when your child has a rash and don't let your other kids sleep in the same bed as the infected child. If someone has a cut, don't put toothpaste or dirt on it to get the bleeding to stop. Don't feed your babies solid foods at 3 months when you are still producing breast milk. Your milk is free food, use it while you can. Anyone under 13 should not be allowed to handle a machete. (Okay so I just had to throw that last one in there) :)

I feel like a lot of the illnesses here are preventable. I look up to those people who are out there teaching these basic principles. I would love to be able to do that someday. If we can use resources like Where There is No Doctor and get the should-be common knowledges out there, it would be huge. Also if we could just eliminate all dirt, bugs, disease, machetes, motorcycles, and dirty water - *that* would be even huge-er. ;)

I am so thankful for this book and appreciate the clear descriptions and ideas it gives. I just wanted to share a little bit more about it and the cool ways I've been able to use Kote ki pa gen dokte to share with my Haitian friends.