Health care is a human right. Through education and an emphasis on good health we strive towards the empowerment of women worldwide.
By providing international exposure for residents and medical students we can dissolve existing cultural barriers and contribute to the development of globally sensitive physicians.
MIA is dedicated to providing quality medical and surgical care to people in resource poor/resource limited countries with a focus on women’s healthcare issues, education, and building/enhancing local capacity for sustainability.
The inaugural mission took place December 2005 in Kingston, Jamaica led by Drs. Chong and Echols. As of January 2013, we have completed twenty-five medical missions in total, fourteen to Jamaica. On those missions, we have seen about 5000 patients, performed approximately 200 surgeries and screened about thousands of women for cervix cancer. Our November missions to Jamaica are typically the largest missions. We have expanded our time and effort and have built a pediatric team as well as including a general surgeon and two OB/GYN oncologists. We have partnered with the Franciscan Ministries through which inner city outreach clinics are organized; St. Joseph’s and Victoria Jubilee hospitals where we perform our surgeries and Port Maria Hospital and outlying rural clinics where we perform most of our cervix cancer screening program. Karolynn Echols is also teaching uro-gynecology at the University of the West Indies Medical School so that new graduates will have a more complete education.
Dr. Chong also traveled to Tanzania in December 2007 to set up a relationship with International Health Partners (IHP). In September of 2011, we completed our eighth medical mission to Mwanza, Tanzania. In Tanzania, we have seen approximately 920 patients, and completed 63 surgeries. In September 2009, 12 of our doctors and friends also completed the climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro as a fundraiser for the organization. Happily, they all made it to the top and raised about $35,000 in the process.
However, MIA has said a reluctant goodbye to our work in Tanzania. It was a tough decision but Medicine in Action has put our African missions on hold for the time being. The group we worked with in Tanzania, IHP has moved their operation and has changed their focus away from women’s health.
We hope to be going back to Africa within the next few of years. For now, we will concentrate on Jamaica and the Caribbean.
As a result of the recent earthquake in Haiti, we are also expanding our efforts and included three missions to Haiti in 2010 and we hope to complete at least one mission a year for approximately the next ten years while the country recovers from the devastation.
Medicine in Action is committed to treating each of its patients with the same level of quality and standard of excellence that is guaranteed in developed nations. We are dedicated to treating each patient with care and sensitivity. We refuse to compromise our standards and are determined to find solutions in each of the villages and neighborhoods we visit. We do not believe in cultural barriers to good medicine and we strive to increase our awareness and understanding of local customs and traditions. We expect each of our volunteers to be knowledgeable about their surroundings and to build trust with the local community.
MIA’s plan for the future is to increase its presence in Jamaica and the Caribbean while adding more educational responsibilities for our doctors as we attempt to increase local capacity. Dr. Karolynn Echols has an agreement with the University of the West Indies to teach Urogynecology to their residents. As MIA increases its medical capabilities and support staff, there will be opportunities to expand its services to other countries of extreme poverty. Our goal for the next two years is to have semi-annual medical missions to Jamaica to do both surgery and clinical work. We have hired a local nurse in Jamaica to help us follow up with our patients so that their care is uninterrupted between missions and we develop continuity of care. We would also like to begin breast and colon cancer screening since these are some of the common causes of death in women. Patient education and preventative services are also emphasized on our medical missions, which includes STD prevention, self breast exams, healthy lifestyle modifications and other issues relating to women’s health that may be specific to each site. The goal is to bring higher standards of healthcare and education, which ultimately will improve the quality of life for patients and loved ones.