Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Dr. Nahreen Ahmed

Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Dr. Nahreen Ahmed

This week, we are proud to highlight Dr. Nahreen Ahmed! Dr. Ahmed has volunteered on multiple missions and is the MedGlobal POCUS Program Chair. She created MedGlobal’s first Ultrasound program using state-of-the-art technology like the Butterfly portable device. Dr. Ahmed has trained other MedGlobal volunteers who have gone onto lead missions in places like Yemen, Pakistan, Greece, Gaza, and the US. 

Where are you located and what is your profession?

I’m a critical care doctor based in Philadelphia, working as an assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. 

If you could witness any event of the past, present, or future, what would it be?

If I could witness any event of the past it would be to witness the Renaissance, specifically in Italy as I’m intrigued by the paradigm shift in art and science that occurred during that era. 

How would your friends describe you?

My friends would describe me as an adventure-seeker who is enamored with travel, deeply driven by the problems facing humanity with a specific soft spot for my motherland of Bangladesh. 

Who inspired/inspires you, both professionally and personally?

My grandfather was a renowned surgeon in Bangladesh, Dr. Shamsuddin Ahmed. He was killed in the Liberation War when he chose to remain with his patients, prioritizing the care of others and the greater good. Prior to that him and my grandmother spent all of their free time advocating for those less fortunate and especially ensuring that women and girls received adequate education. Though I have never met my grandfather his legacy has been the single most inspiring force in both my personal and professional life. 

What countries have you volunteered in?

I have volunteered in Bangladesh, Sierra Leone, Yemen, and through other non profits in Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania. 

Why do you volunteer?

My parents were lucky to have had the opportunity to seek out opportunity in the US and as a result I have had the opportunity to advance my education, acquiring skills that are needed worldwide. I believe it to truly be a social responsibility to give back for those of us who have the ability and opportunity to do so. 

Whis is your most memorable moment on a MedGlobal trip?

The most memorable moment was in Sayoun [Yemen]. I went as an instructor to deliver a Point-of-Care Ultrasound course. What struck me was that I was the only woman in the entire classroom setting. When we walked through the wards the female patients and female staff mentioned how wonderful it was to see a woman on the team. What stood out to me then was that I have two responsibilities now–the responsibility as a volunteer to give my best effort but also as a woman, to represent a possibility of potential opportunity to work equally alongside the men. 

After volunteering, how has your perception of Global Health issues changed?  

Volunteering across various countries has opened by eyes to the vastness of global health issues, and at the root of them is equity–or the lack thereof. Every trip I go on pushes me further to think creatively on how we can support capacity building to empower communities so they can sustain the solutions to improve their own health. I am amazed by the intelligence and ingenuity of every person I meet in a global setting, from community members to health care workers. It gives me hope that together we can create impact and improve the equity of health care. 

Thank you for being a part of the MedGlobal community, Dr. Ahmed! 

MedGlobal is urgently seeking US-based medical volunteers to support the Navajo Nation and Chicago communities

MedGlobal is seeking US-based nurses to support the Navajo Nation and IL licensed nurses and physicians to support Chicago communities.

The Navajo Nation

The Navajo Nation has been devastated during the COVID-19 pandemic with over 5,000 positive cases reported. This puts them at the second-highest infection rate per capita after New York. As of May 15th, the Navajo Health Command Operation Center created the unified COVID Command Group which coordinates response efforts on COVID within the Navajo Nation. 

MedGlobal is partnering with Chinle Comprehensive Health Care to support its 60-bed hospital serving approximately 37,000 individuals in the Chinle, Arizona region. There is a critical need for nurses to support the Navajo Nation with a 1 month minimum commitment. Physicians are not needed at this time. 

Marginalized Chicago Communities

Chicago has recently reached over 110,000 cases of COVID-19, with marginalized communities, particularly African Americans, being disproportionately affected. Compromising only 23% of cases, African Americans makeup 46% of COVID-19 deaths in Chicago, showing a clear racial disparity.  

In partnership with the Inner-City Muslim Action Network, MedGlobal will be supporting testing operations through the IMAN Community Health Center. This Federally Qualified Health Center serves a diverse patient population primarily from the Englewood and Chicago Lawn neighborhoods. 

In Englewood, 46.6% of the population falls below the poverty line, and in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood, 27.9% fall below the poverty line. Both communities are predominately African American, with large Latinx and immigrant populations as well. West Englewood has one of the lowest rates of testing in Chicago and the Chicago Lawn area has case counts growing at a rate of 21.83% per week, indicating the need for increased testing in the area. Volunteer Physicians and Nurses with IL licenses are needed at the Chicago testing site. 

If you are interested in joining MedGlobal on the frontlines in Chicago or the Navajo Nation, contact volunteer@medglobal.org.

Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Dr. Johnstone

Earlier this year, Dr. Anna Johnstone volunteered at the MedGlobal clinic in Cucuta, Colombia and at the Colombia Brigade to El Talento. As we celebrate the 1-year anniversary of the Cucuta clinic, we are proud to highlight Dr. Johnstone as a part of our diverse team making a difference all over the world!

Where are you located and what is your profession?
I currently work at the Balfour Hospital in Orkney, which is a group of islands off the North coast of Scotland. I work as a locum junior doctor, covering all acute services, including the emergency department, acute medical and surgical team, and the high dependency unit.

If you could witness any event of the past, present, or future, what would it be?
In the current climate with COVID-19, I think the main event that I am hoping to witness is the release of a successful and effective vaccine programme for COVID-19! Let’s hope it’s not too far in the future!

How would your friends describe you?
I would hope they would say I am driven in my work, and also take time for my friendships and social life. I have often been described as a very direct person – which at times I am not sure if that is a good thing!

Who inspires you, both professionally and personally?
My grandparents were both doctors and I think they are big inspirations for me. My granny went to medical school in the 1930s when less than 30% of medical school graduates were women. They both worked in Orkney as general practitioners and looked after their community. They also had a never ending list of visitors in their house, and many infamous parties. Their balance of care for the community and great social lives is something I would like to achieve!

What countries have you volunteered in?
I have done a trip with MedGlobal to Colombia. I volunteered in Ethiopia with a facial surgical charity called Project Harar. I volunteered in Madagascar with a marine conservation charity called Blue Ventures. 

Why do you volunteer?
I have been given the most amazing opportunity through training as a doctor to be able to help people. Volunteering allows me to use this training to support people in situations where they would otherwise have no access. It also develops my own learning and I feel improves my care for patients both here in Scotland, and in my volunteering role. 

It also gives me the opportunity to travel around the world, and meet like-minded people. 

Which is your most memorable moment on a MedGlobal trip?
My trip to Colombia in February 2020 was my first trip with MedGlobal and it was fantastic. I learnt so much from the team I was working with, and the care we were able to provide for the patients was great. 

After volunteering, how has your perception of the Global Health crises changed?
I think the main thing that I have taken from my short global health career is that people don’t need anything fancy or glamorous with their medical care. They need their blood pressure to be checked, they need counseling on family planning, and they need someone to talk to about their anxiety. By providing a general and basic level of care, you are taking one step towards helping them get through the rest of their lives, which is invariably difficult and often out of both their and your control.

Thank you for being a part of the MedGlobal community, Dr. Johnstone! 

10 Mental Health Tips for Healthcare workers during the Covid-19 Crisis

Author: Shaznin Daruwalla, PsyD

Dr. Shaznin Daruwalla, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist at Oregon State University with experience in low resource settings such as Bangladesh and India, put together a list of best practices to maintain good mental and emotional health for healthcare professionals facing the Covid-19 crisis. 

As our communities are battling, bracing for, and recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, healthcare workers are facing challenges on all fronts including mental health. Here are some mental health recommendations for you – the healthcare professionals on the frontline. I hope you find some of them helpful. Start with one before adding a new one. If you’re already doing all of them, try strengthening them by establishing a consistent routine (e.g., calling your loved ones every Sunday afternoon). 

  • First, it is normal if you and many of your colleagues might be feeling under pressure. The stress and the feelings associated with it do not mean that you cannot do your job or that you are weak. In fact, managing your mental health and psychosocial well-being during this time is as crucial as managing your physical health.
  • Therefore, take care of yourself at this time by using helpful coping strategies:
    • Caring for the body: Get sufficient rest and respite during work or between shifts, regular exercise, eat sufficient, healthy and regular meals.
    • Relationships: Maintain contact with family and friends, talk with your colleagues – whether they are part of your staff/department or in different parts of the world. It is likely that they might be having an experience similar to yours; knowing that you’re not alone in this might be really beneficial for your mental health and stress levels.
    • Take breaks: engage in activities you enjoy. Take deep breaths. Unplug, go for a walk. Meditate. Pray. Read.
    • Stay informed (responsibly): Minimize or limit exposure to news about COVID-19 that causes you to feel anxious or distressed. Getting frequent updates about the pandemic can be upsetting. Also, get your information from reliable sources (e.g., WHO). Facts can help minimize fears.
  • Avoid using unhelpful coping strategies such as use of tobacco, alcohol or other drugs. In the long term, these can worsen your mental and physical well-being. 
  • The COVID-19 outbreak is a unique scenario for many workers, particularly if they have not been involved in similar responses. Also, everyone reacts to stress differently. Your own reactions/feelings might also change over the course of this pandemic. Notice and accept your feelings.
  • Start with de-stressing strategies that have worked for you in the past. Remember, you are in charge! You are the best person to know how you can de-stress so do not hesitate in prioritizing your psychological well-being during these unprecedented times.  
  • This is a marathon, not a sprint. Therefore, pace yourself, be gentle and kind with yourself. 
  • Amplify hopeful stories and positive images of local people who have experienced COVID-19 (e.g., stories of people who have recovered).

Prepared by Shaznin Daruwalla, PsyD 

References: https://emergency.cdc.gov/coping/selfcare.asp | https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/mental-health-considerations.pdf?sfvrsn=6d3578af_2

How MedGlobal’s Helping Babies Breathe program is helping me save lives in Bangladesh

By Sonia, Facilitator/Trainer in Helping Babies Breathe

Sonia was a participant of the Helping Babies Breathe training, which MedGlobal and UNFPA led in June 2019. She expresses her gratitude towards MedGlobal, volunteers, and partner organizations for implementing a program that not only benefits her but others – as she moved on to train healthcare professionals in her area.

Special thanks to MedGlobal and UNFPA for providing life-saving training with the Helping Babies Breath (HBB) program – an internationally recognized, evidence-based educational program for reducing infant mortality by providing life-saving measures within the first minute of birth.

Six volunteer master trainers from MedGlobal taught us how to help newborn babies, who are not breathing after delivery, by stimulation then applying a bag and mask to improve ventilation until the baby starts breathing normally. The informative HBB demonstrations are valuable in saving the lives of newborn babies.

MedGlobal volunteer, Tracy Ibgui observed my full training session and she worked hard to make sure her students know exactly what to do if a baby is not breathing. Participants are now able to face these obstacles well-prepared and ready to save lives! It was a great pleasure to receive training alongside fellow healthcare professionals.

Finally, I received my Certificate of Completion with the help of MedGlobal! I am now working as a facilitator and trainer. I am providing the same HBB training to staff from my organization as well as other organizations. This training was very effective, informative and valuable to all of us.

Thank you!

‘Lost Boy’ Dr. Jacob Atem joins MedGlobal to further advocacy efforts

Dr. Jacob Atem recently joined MedGlobal’s team as the Advocacy Coordinator, where he will give a voice to the MedGlobal’s mission and carry out advocacy initiatives on MedGlobal’s priority issues.

Dr. Atem received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Pre-Medicine/Biology from Spring Arbor University in 2008 and a Master of Public Health from Michigan State University in 2010. He received his Ph.D. in Environmental and Global Health from the University of Florida in 2017. 

After escaping violence and surviving a long and dangerous journey out of South Sudan, Dr. Atem was determined to extend healthcare access to people around the world. He co-founded the Southern Sudan Healthcare Organization providing healthcare services and education to the region and is now utilizing his passion and expertise to further MedGlobal’s mission.

Can you tell us about your history and background?

I was born in Maar, South Sudan and at the age of 7, my job was to take my family’s goats and cows to find grass and water near the bank of the Nile River. One morning in 1991, I was caring for the animals when I heard gunfire and screaming. When I ran to see what happened, I saw that my village was on fire. The rebel forces from Northern Sudan had invaded, and at that moment, I knew that my family members had either been killed or taken into slavery. 

Along with other young boys whose villages were destroyed, I started walking. As we trekked through the wilderness, we endured malnutrition, dehydration, exhaustion and much worse. One night when I was hiding in a bush, one of the boys yelled “lion!” and I ran into a sharp branch that cut my leg so deep that I could see my bone. There was no way to get medical treatment. Miraculously, it healed with time. 

From the estimated 26,000 to 30,000 children, like me, who started the journey from South Sudan, about half died before reaching refugee camps in Kenya. After walking nearly 2,000 miles, I saw many boys die from diseases such as hepatitis B, measles, pertussis and tuberculosis. Like them, I had no vaccinations or opportunities for medical care. The refugee camps, where we ended up, were overcrowded and prone to outbreaks of cholera, shigellosis, and other diarrheal diseases – affecting the younger children the most. 

How did your experiences as a child bring you to where you are today?

I witness and lived through the public health problems of refugees on my career path in public health – now I want to be part of the solution. I have joined MedGlobal as an Advocacy Coordinator because I believe in MedGlobal’s vision of “a world without healthcare disparity.” I have been helped in so many ways by others. To be able to give back, helping refugees and displaced people around the world is the greatest gift. 

Why did you choose to work with MedGlobal?

MedGlobal deploys medical missions to provide lifesaving and life-sustaining emergency medical services to the most vulnerable populations in crisis areas around the globe. Through partnerships with local organizations, volunteers can address the enormous needs of primary and specialty care services. Since its inception, MedGlobal has deployed 132 medical missions in 13 countries around the world. By the end of 2019, MedGlobal aims to deploy a total of 160 medical missions in 17 countries. 

Since we began our mission less than 3 years ago, we have conducted 112 surgeries, deployed 411 volunteers to sites around the world who have donated over 25,780 hours of there services. They have seen over 98,292 patients in 13 countries. Our medical volunteers have donated more than $3,221,481 worth of professional medical services and provided dozens of training courses to local healthcare providers.

What do you envision for the organization?

In 3-5 years, I envision MedGlobal impact will double in the continent of Africa. The future operations for MedGlobal will be in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, and South Sudan. In September 2019, the MedGlobal will visit Uganda and conduct a health assessment and meet with local partners that will enable MedGlobal work in Uganda.

In October 2019, MedGlobal will travel to the Republic of South Sudan to meet the Ministry of Health (MOH). l will also visit hospitals in Juba and other states in the country. Based on the success of the visit in September 2019, MedGlobal will prospect for medical missions in early 2020. 

Similarly, MedGlobal Organization has a strategic plan to visit Kenya and Uganda given the large influx of South Sudanese refugees into these countries. 

How can others stay connected to MedGlobal and contribute to the cause?

There are several ways that you can stay connected with MedGlobal. You can subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

I have an open-door policy and invite anyone to contact me at any time at atem@medglobal.org.

To continue expanding our operations and achieving program goals, we ask for your support. Your donation will also expand the reach of MedGlobal to more refugees, patients, and displaced people worldwide.

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MedGlobal seeking volunteers to join upcoming mission in Pakistan

According to the United Nations’ Human Development Index, Pakistan ranks 150 out of 189 countries in the world – well below average for other countries in the South Asian region. While strides have been made in development, the effects have not equally affected all areas of the country, with a particular lack of resources in rural areas. There is currently less than 1 doctor for every 1,000 patients in Pakistan, with a disproportionate coverage of medical care in rural communities. Conditions such as acute diarrheal illness and malnutrition continue to be prominent, with 45% of children under 5 years of age meeting the criteria for moderate to severe stunting due to malnutrition. [1][2]

Together with the Indus Health Network, MedGlobal will be taking a team of trainers to provide training courses in Helping Babies Breathe, Adult and Perinatal Ultrasound and Empathy Training to healthcare professionals from rural areas around Pakistan. The mission will be based in Karachi, Pakistan, from November 17 through 24, 2019.

We are currently in need of instructors in Helping Babies Breathe, Adult Point-of-Care Ultrasound, and Perinatal Point-of-Care Ultrasound. If you are interested in joining this mission, please contact volunteer@medglobal.org.

If you are not able to volunteer, please consider donating today!

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Sources:
[1] UNDP, Pakistan Human Development Indicators
[2] WHO, Global Health Observatory (GHO) data

MedGlobal-PAMA Gaza mission in pictures

MedGlobal and the Palestinian American Medical Association (PAMA) sent a team of medical and surgical volunteers to Gaza for a week-long mission. Follow the team on their journey providing care, training, and delivering medical supplies to Gaza hospitals.

The MedGlobal-PAMA team meet before entering Gaza to discuss mission goals and procedure.
The MedGlobal and PAMA team at Erez border crossing, after entering Gaza.
MedGlobal and PAMA at the Ministry of Health in Gaza for a tour of the facility.
Delivering much-needed medical and surgical supplies to area hospitals in Gaza.
A box of surgical supplies being distributed to area hospitals by MedGlobal and PAMA.
MedGlobal and PAMA team touring the Ministry of Health facility.
While touring the Ministy of Health facility the power turns off, as happens for hours a day in Gaza.
MedGlobal volunteers, Dr Elahi and Dr. Safi perform and train Gaza medical resident physicians on bronchoscopy procedure
MedGlobal-PAMA volunteers, Dr Elahi and Dr. Safi, train Gaza medical resident physicians on bronchoscopy procedures.
All surgeons in Gaza were invited to participate in a surgical symposium featuring Dr. Garg, Dr. Akbar and Dr. Sharif.
Surgeons throughout Gaza attended a surgical symposium featuring MedGlobal-PAMA volunteers, Dr. Garg, Dr. Akbar, and Dr. Sharif.
Dr. Arti Garg performing laparoscopic colectomy
MedGlobal volunteer, Dr. Arti Garg, performing laparoscopic colectomy.
Dr. Imran Akbar, anesthesiologist, preparing for surgery.
Dr. Imran Akbar, anesthesiologist, preparing for surgery.
MedGlobal partner, the Butterfly Network, provided the hand-held ultrasound scanners called Butterfly iQs.
MedGlobal partner, the Butterfly Network, provided hand-held ultrasound scanners called Butterfly iQs. Ultrasounds can be viewed on a smartphone, allowing for advanced medical imaging with minimal resources.

Check back for updates. Visit our Gaza page to learn more about about this mission.

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Giving back to others through volunteering

Thanks to our volunteer program and the selfless souls of over 260 medical volunteers, 70 medical missions are changing the lives of thousands in 10 different countries.

Since starting medical missions, MedGlobal has donated over $1 million in medication, medical supplies, and equipment and another $1 million in professional medical services and training courses to local healthcare providers.

Volunteer Spotlight: Lia Harris

Lia Harris MedGlobal Volunteer

“Volunteering with MedGlobal has been a life-changing experience for me. I never thought I could leave full-time practice to volunteer internationally but MedGlobal’s support for volunteers made it easy. Making a difference in the lives of people who have lost everything was humbling, but renewed my passion for medicine.” – Lia Harris

Learn more about our volunteer program and get involved!

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Giving Rohingya children a reason to smile

By Dr. Maryam M.A.M

I have been working with the Rohingya refugees in Cox’s for over a year through #MedGlobal missions. During that time I have had the opportunity to work with veteran medical volunteers from around the world who have extensive experience working with refugees in different parts of the world. A statement made by one such experienced volunteer really stuck with me. He said, and I quote, “I have worked with refugee children in many parts of the world but I have never seen children like the Rohingya children.” When I asked him why he said: “the Rohingya children don’t smile.”

This would not be the last time I would hear this statement. A pediatrician from Canada once asked “Maryam, how do I get the children to loosen up and smile? It’s easy to get the kids back home to smile, but the Rohingya children don’t respond to anything.” My answer to her questions was “say Asalaamu Alaikum. Call them ‘Fu-to.’ Ask them ‘ken-aso?’” Fu-too is the #Rohingya way of calling a child “honey,” “dear” or “baby.” The next day she reported that the children were a little more relaxed if not smiling.

A Paediatrician from the USA used to like asking children what they wanted to be when they grow up. He said, “this is the first time I have met children who don’t have a career they aspired to.”

The Rohingya children have been through a lot. They have witnessed the persecution of their families, they have lost their homes, and some have lost their parents, and many have been forced to grow up before their time. They have been displaced from their country and forced to another. But it’s not just the children who witnessed a lot – their parents and caregivers have been traumatized as well.

So my question to you is, how do children heal from trauma when their caregivers don’t know how to process their own traumatic experiences?

We want to be a constant for Rohingya children and their families. We want to be there for them when they need us to provide the medical services they need. Please donate to MedGlobal to keep our medical missions available to Rohingya refugees in #Bangladesh.