In the desolate poverty-stricken outer districts, health care is virtually non-existent.
Although Peru is not without (private and public) hospitals and clinics, the doctor-to-patient ratio (1.1 for every 1,000) is far lower than in industrialized countries.
All medical facilities are inside the town, miles away from the slums. Medical intervention is exclusively reserved for severe or urgent cases.
For lesser complaints one resorts to the direct assistance of nurses. Illiteracy is widespread among the most destitute in the population, especially those who migrated from the backward areas high up in the mountains,. Therefore those who are sick don’t even know who to turn to.
Travelling nurse: On the staff working at the Mission there is a young woman who has recently graduated with a five-year certificate in nursing. While waiting for a full-time position, she is doing a period of voluntary work; her activity consists in travelling around the various poor districts, identifying people likely to be affected by some medical disorder (measuring blood pressure, sugar in the blood, etc.), giving injections and, in suspected cases, referring the patient to a specialist doctor (perhaps even accompanying the patient to hospital).
Her tasks include washing the sick and invalid, dressing small wounds, etc. This is a valuable human resource, doomed to vanish as soon as this nurse finds a proper job.
If the Mission could tap into some funds to guarantee her a salary, then this type of service could be offered permanently.
Having secured this service, one could negotiate an agreement with the Faculty of Nursing in the local University and arrange for fourth- and fifth-year students to be offered an internship so that they, too, would come and work in the district.
Equipment for infirmaries: On parish premises, there is a small pharmacy supplying medicines at no cost. It is run by nuns and is open only a few hours a week, just for the needs of the poorest in the community.
These spaces could be furnished and equipped to become a small dispensary, with longer opening hours; and the nurse could conceivably be in attendance at different moments or shifts in the day.
A number of specialist doctors (a geriatrician, a pediatrician, a traumatologist) have undertaken to hold a free surgery one afternoon a week.
The necessary equipment includes a doctor’s bed, some furniture, and the basic instruments of a doctor’s surgery.
Furniture to equip the infirmary: Sprawling population, quantifiable in a few thousand people.
Medical supplies: A travelling nurse requires, besides the instruments, a few consumables, in particular to dress small wounds, splints for broken bones or other traumas, gloves and products for washing/bathing an invalid, and medication.
The material could be stored in the dispensary and it could be used for operations on site.
Mobility aid: If a person is not only unable to walk as a result of disease or trauma, but is also poverty-stricken, he/she will lose all freedom of movement.
Some mobility aid (wheelchair, crutches, tripod stick, etc.) offered to the needy could help them get out of bed to perform some vital function. Such items would be just on loan and they would be used on a rotational basis, under the responsibility of the nurse, with a view to make them available to more people.
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