Thursday, June 14, 2007

Health Lessons

Peace Corps has a full-time Samoan nurse, on call 24/7, trained in New Zealand. She seems very good. Peace Corps has its own health office in Apia. There are a number of classroom sessions on health. We also get a first aid kit when we begin our village project. If needed, we are flown to Hawaii for better facilities and treatment.

A term used here is “Self-Limiting Disease, SLD”. It means that certain diseases and illnesses just run their course. There is no need to prescribe medicines or see a doctor for these sicknesses. Prevention is important, mainly common sense hygiene and good luck. We are also starting to get a series of vaccinations.

Those most common diseases encountered by Peace Corps Volunteers are diarrhea, respiratory illnesses, dengue fever, and skin infections. Other endemic diseases on the island are typhoid, dysentery, and tuberculosis, although not a big problem for Peace Corps.

The sun and heat can be a real source of problems. We all are aware of dehydration and a water bottle is carried by everyone. Even with two days of swimming in bright sun, no one has a sun burn, thanks to protective sun screens.

We have a huge manual on health care accompanied by several hours of instruction. The biggest health concern now among the volunteers is gaining weight. It seems adding twenty pounds is not uncommon. Food is plentiful here. Someone said others eat until they are full: Samoans eat until they are tired.

1 comment:

Teri said...

Ummm, about dengue fever... I do know that in 2003 the WHO reported some progress in the development of a possible vaccine which was estimated to be available in 5-10 years. I'm curious whether you got any info about that during your vaccinations, dad.

In the meantime, please don't forget to wear your repellent and use your mosquito netting!