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Resident Scholar Dr. Tan Travels to Senegal

Dr. James Tan’s IVUmed scholarship experience in Dakar, Senegal was made possible by the generous support of the South Central Section of the AUA. During his time in Senegal, Dr. Tan was accompanied by mentor, Francis Schneck, MD.

Dr. Tan, reflecting on his experience, reported, “We quickly got through our intake of 30 plus patients with efficiency despite some of us still recovering from severe jet lag.  Amongst these we chose the most appropriate cases to proceed with and scheduled them appropriately on each of the operative days.  Despite the facilities being much different from what we were used to we were quick to unpack and start cases the following day.  It was clear from the get go that the aim of our time would be focused on training the local doctors new techniques and procedures.  There was a willingness to allow the local surgeons to have as much hands on time and struggles as possible much like during our residency training.  This would not be a time of pure observation.  They would get valuable experience with cases they’d never seen before.  Each day was long and tiring but at the end of the day there was a satisfaction I had in working with a great group of people as a team helping the kids we operated on.

My goal as I progress in my career is to eventually do continuous short-term mission trips.  I made many valuable observations.  Organization was key as we had a set schedule from the minute we landed.  This demands an established relationship with the local people and doctors that can only be developed through years of working together much like Dr. Schneck had with the Grand Yoff hospital.  As I learned, two of the local urologists had spent time in the U.S. and had visited Dr. Schneck and Tina the nurse who traveled with us.  An additional element of a successful trip was the need to teach your skills to as many as possible.  As the old saying goes give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.  The same can be said for doctors.  The most helpful thing for the local people besides sending more doctors is to teach the doctors already there new skills and techniques so that they may reach as many people as possible even when the team leaves.”

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Quotes from the Field: Dakar, Senegal

Our recent pediatric urology workshop in Dakar, Senegal was a great success! Enjoy quotes from IVUmed volunteer medical providers who served in Senegal and photographs from the region:

 

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“Seeing the surgeons who, a few years ago, were unable to even to basic cases, and now can evaluate and treat many of the cases we see, was very encouraging.” Mark Bellinger, MD (helped conduct the first IVUmed workshop in Senegal)

 

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“IVUmed continues to impress me with its tactical deployment of superb surgical services in locations interested in international collaboration and assistance. Thank you to the Board of Directors and the IVUmed staff for providing these enriching opportunities. All of the trips I have taken with IVUmed have been exhilarating and I am thrilled to use my skills to help others.” Robert Lembersky, MD

 

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“This trip was fabulous and it was so wonderful to see how eager to learn and improve the hosts were. I felt the “Teach One, Reach Many” mission was being honored.” Moira E. Dwyer, MD

 

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TODAY: Pediatric Urology Workshop in Senegal

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Featured above is a locally-made flyer posted in Dakar, Senegal, advertising the IVUmed pediatric urology workshop being conducted in Senegal at Hopital Général de Grand Yoff in Dakar.

This is the fifth pediatric urology workshop that IVUmed teams have conducted in Senegal. Each of the five Senegal urology workshops have been led by long-time IVUmed volunteer, Dr. Fran Schneck.

Our team will be in Senegal through tomorrow, but early reports indicate that the patient care and workshop training of physicians and nurses in Senegal is going “very well”.

We look forward to reporting additional feedback regarding this workshop and thank the IVUmed volunteers and staff who make this and all of our medical services possible.

 

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Common, Costly, & Critical: January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month

“Birth defects are common, costly, and critical.” is the National Birth Defects Prevention Month theme for January 2014.

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Every 4 ½ minutes in the United States, a baby is born with a major birth defect. Birth defects are a leading cause of death among U.S. infants, causing roughly 20% of mortality in the first year of life. Babies born with birth defects are also more likely to have more illness and long term disability than babies without birth defects. National Birth Defects Prevention Month raises awareness about the frequency of birth defects occurring in the United States and the efforts to prevent them. While not all birth defects are preventable, women can do many things to prepare for a healthy pregnancy. The Center for Disease Control suggests:

  • Be fit. Eat a healthy diet and work towards a healthy weight before pregnancy.
  • Be healthy. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs. Be sure to consume at least 400 micrograms of folic acid every day before and during early pregnancy.  Work to get health conditions, like diabetes, in control before becoming pregnant.
  • Be wise. Visit a health care professional regularly. Consult with your healthcare provider about any medications, including prescription and over-the counter medications and dietary or herbal supplements, before taking them.

 

Awareness efforts offer hope for reducing the number of birth defects in the future. The National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN) suggests these additional prevention strategies:

  • Manage chronic maternal illnesses such as seizure disorders or phenylketonuria (PKU)
  • Avoid toxic substances at work or at home
  • Ensure protection against domestic violence
  • Know their family history and seek reproductive genetic counseling, if appropriate

 

Leslie Beres, MSHyg, President of National Birth Defects Prevention Network, said, It’s also important to remember that many birth defects happen very early during pregnancy, sometimes before a woman even knows she is pregnant, so planning a pregnancy is key and can also help make a difference.  Managing health conditions and adopting healthy behaviors before becoming pregnant increase a woman’s chances of having a healthy baby.

While approximately 1 in every 33 babies born in the United States has a birth defect, the international birth defect statistics are even more disheartening. According to a March of Dimes report, 6 percent of total births worldwide – almost 8 million children – are born with birth defects, with over 4 million infant deaths occurring annually due to birth defects and preterm birth.

When IVUmed started in 1992, our first programs were dedicated to pediatric urology.  Reproductive and urinary tract malformations are among the most common birth defects affecting children worldwide.

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IVUmed addresses the lack of available care through specialized intensive trainings and distance learning opportunities.  Due to continued demand, we have conducted these workshops in over 20 countries since the program first began.

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IVUmed has various pediatric urology training workshops scheduled for 2014, including visits to India, Kenya, Ghana, Honduras, Vietnam, Senegal, the West Bank, Mongolia, and Zambia.

 

Resources for this article:

March of Dimes

Center for Disease Control

National Birth Defects Prevention Network

 

 

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IVUmed is committed to making quality urological care available to people worldwide.