by Stephen Vodhanel, PhD
CJ Jacobson, class of 2015, traveled to Huacho, Peru during summer for a two-week medical mission trip with International Medical Alliance Helps (IMAHelps). CJ joined over 100 healthcare professionals that included pharmacists among doctors, dentists, nurses, and physical therapists.
In Peru, CJ witnessed how the best of intentions with medical missions can encounter problems that can be challenging.
A nation-wide strike of all public health nurses and doctors closed the hospital and forced the IMAHelps team to arrange other private dental and surgical clinic locations to deliver medical aid. And, of the three tons of medical supplies pre-shipped, over 700 pounds disappeared in customs, while other supply boxes were marked “Non Conforme” and could not be released to the team.
It took 5 days of negotiations to finally receive all the recoverable supplies.
Despite the logistical challenges, CJ notes that during the working days the pharmacy team averaged 800 scripts a day, with one day reaching 1,144 scripts filled. And that is from a pharmacy set up, literally, on the street!
For CJ, it was an extremely humbling experience to deliver medical aid to the very poorest of the poor in Peru. “The smiles on their faces after we were done helping them helped make all of the problems we had getting set up worth it. This trip was a great reminder that the reason for missions is about the people you help and how much we take for granted in the USA,” said CJ.
Photo: CJ Jacobson in Huacho, Peru.