Hematologists in developing countries face markedly
different challenges than their counterparts in industrialized countries. For
example, at the Mulago Hospital in Kampala,
see between 150,000 and 450,000 patients a year. With a yearly operating budget
of $3 million (USD), spending per patient averages out to less than $5 per day.
To help address this issue, ASH has partnered with Health Volunteers Overseas
(HVO). HVO sends ASH members on short-term (one to four weeks) assignments to
teach and train local physicians in developing countries; hematology programs
are currently in place in Uganda,
Peru, and Cambodia.
Rather than asking volunteers to practice at the site, HVO volunteers
specifically focus on education and training based on the needs expressed at
each site. “Personnel at each site are responsible for driving the success of
each program,” says Nancy Kelly, HVO executive director. As a result, HVO
empowers local hematology clinicians and laboratory scientists to create
sustainable and practical programs over the long term.
ASH member volunteers
have enthusiastically heeded the call to volunteer, with volunteers booked on
the calendar well into 2010. “[The] experience has left an indelible mark on me,
really enhancing and better defining what I feel my purpose is as a doctor,”
reported ASH member Dr. Joanne Lagmay, of her experience volunteering at Mulago Hospital.
Like Dr. Lagmay, other ASH members may choose to volunteer
at Mulago Hospital
which focuses on improving patient care and diagnostic skills in basic
hematology in both the clinical and laboratory settings. Three sites in Peru — Lima, Arequipa, and Cusco — are
organized with the Peruvian national health-care system, EsSalud, allowing for
opportunities to coordinate hematology training across the country through a
more developed infrastructure. Limited opportunities to enhance laboratory
skills are available at the Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
To learn more about how your hematology skills can
make a lasting impact on your colleagues around the world, attend “Sharing Your
Hematology Expertise Globally: The Volunteer Experience,” this evening from
6:30 to 8:00 p.m., at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside, in the Belle Chasse
room. For more information on HVO, visit www.hvousa.org.
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