Comparing perspectives while working in Haiti
By Elizabeth Greig
CENTRAL PLATEAU, Haiti–The suggestions for preventative health measures available to Americans in this week’s time would probably get a few confused looks and laughs from the people of the Central Plateau. A quote highlighted in bold reads, “Ideally, I want you to be sweaty for an hour every day.” Haitians, I assure you, have met and exceeded this recommendation for prevention of cardiovascular disease.
If sweating is an effective way to prevent heart disease, then it could be extrapolated that Project Medishare’s mobile clinics have been practicing preventative healthcare and saving thousands of lives not counting any other medical intervention people may have received there. I myself expect to live well into my hundreds based off the hours of sweating I chalked up this week alone. And yet, the people of the Central Plateau press the limits of one’s sphygmonometer, so much so that it is the overwhelming topic of clinical discussion at the end of the day.
There is, however, something comforting about writing your 70th prescription of HCTZ in a day. For one, it’s just like home! Of the limited amount of drugs I can write by memory in a set of orders, this is one of them. At home, hypertension too is a disease of poverty. People aren’t washing their HCTZ down at Jackson Memorial Hospital with a few chicken nuggets because of a Louis XIV complex, but at least hypertension is an opportunity. At least you’re given the chance to live a safe enough life to advance to hypertension. A luxury? A luxury only with the lowest standards……but an advance nonetheless.