Medical Teams International | Official Blog

Stories of hope, health and lives transformed.

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  • Nepal Earthquake: Field Update

    by Tyler Graf | Apr 27, 2015

    Nepal 1 earthquake destruction
    The aftermath of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal.

    Medical Teams International is ready to deploy a team of medical volunteers, staff and supplies to Nepal to assist in aid efforts following the 7.8-magnitude earthquake. MTI is one of five U.S. nonprofits approved to provide medical assistance in the country.

    MTI already has one staff member on the ground in Kathmandu -- Dominic Bowen, our global emergency and security advisor. 

    He reports that aftershocks have been quick but quite powerful, and that many people are scared to stay indoors, even at night. Traveling from the airport to the hotel at night, he saw many people sleeping on side of the two-and-a-half lane main road. Many of them were families with young kids.

    Tourists and aid workers alike are sleeping in the unusable driveway of a local hotel, in the foyer, or by the pool. They are sleeping in all-open spaces.

    “People are at the end of their tether," Bowen said. "You can only imagine what it’s like for the locals who can’t get on a plane and leave.”

    Supplies are running low. Bottled water has run out. The hotel is running low on food. People are aware of the shortages and cooking accordingly.

    Families and other groups of people are setting up their own ad-hoc shelters under garbage bags they set up themselves.

    It’s starting to get cold. It’s pre-monsoon season with rain coming nonstop in June. Many people are already malnourished, have skin or wound infections and are psychologically damaged. “We need to get people healthy as soon as we can,” Bowen said.

    Your emergency gift will go directly to disaster relief efforts in Nepal. To find out more, or to donate now, visit our earthquake response page

  • Liberian Shipment Story: New Bed Arrives in Bomi County

    by Tyler Graf | Apr 24, 2015

    Workers at a Liberian medical center this month reacted joyously to the arrival of a "delivery bed," used to keep pregnant women comfortably positioned during exams and births. 

    New bed arrives 2, Bomi County, 2015
    A delivery bed arrives to a medical center in Liberia. Workers at the center respond to the delivery happily.

    Before the bed arrived, pregnant women had to lie on the ground, which is an extremely dangerous way to give birth. An officer in charge of the medical center expressed how scary it was to deliver babies on a hard, dirty floor. "It may cause the child to die, or the mother may become cripple after the delivery," said Amos D., the officer in charge. "I thank God (to) all those who give their money to buy this delivery bed."

    Thanks to your generous donations, mothers in Liberia are safer during child birth, and their children have a better chance of being born healthy. The bed is much more than simply a small gesture in the rural town of Dagaweah, in Bomi County -- which was, until recently, among the worst hit by the Ebola epidemic. It is hugely appreciated. Imagine the difference between giving birth on a the ground, and giving birth on an adjustable bed. It can be the difference between life and death.

    Before the delivery bed arrived, Amos D. said women simply lay flat on the ground, sometimes placing a thin blanket under their backs.

    "This is difficult for me," he said. "The women lay down on their back on the floor because we don't have a suitable bed here."

    As he spoke, he treated a woman who herself was lying on the stark floor.

    Pregnant woman receives care, Bomi County, 2015
    Amos D. checks the blood pressure of a pregnant woman at a medical center in Liberia.

    "You see this lady brought her own  (blanket)," he said. "This is what you see on the ground so. I tell you, this is not safe for the woman and the baby during the time of delivery."

    He'll never have to treat a woman lying on the ground again. Your life-changing gift matters greatly to the pregnant women, their babies and the health workers of Liberia. 

    Looking at the new bed, Bomi, 2015
    Medical workers in Liberia excitedly open a box containing a delivery bed. 
  • Staff Story: Nodding Syndrome in Uganda

    by Tyler Graf | Apr 23, 2015

    The following is a story by Patty Hutton, Medical Team International's manager of Africa Programs, about a recent experience she had in Uganda.

    I felt the hot sun scorch my face, as I bolted from the car to the nearest tree with shade I could find.

    I was in Pader, Uganda, visiting a program where Medical Teams International provides medicine and assistance to children suffering from Nodding Syndrome. The syndrome itself is somewhat under-researched, as no one has yet been able to truly pinpoint what causes it. The disease targets children in certain regions of Uganda, South Sudan and Tanzania.

    The mysterious disease causes children to have seizure-like episodes, especially when they smell food. These episodes cause the children to be stigmatized, and because of Nodding they are often stunted or malnourished. I watched as a mother took some Depakote, an anti-seizure drug packed by our wonderful volunteers at the Distribution Center, and gave it to her child. Immediately after, she fed her son. Only with the medicine could he eat without having an episode.

    As I scanned the area, my eyes met with a girl making necklaces who gave me a sly smile. Her name was Eunice and although she looked as though she couldn’t be older than 9, she was actually 15. She had Nodding Syndrome, which had stunted her growth.

    Through the assistance provided by MTI, 90 kids with Nodding Syndrome have been able to go back to school because of occupational therapy, medicine and assistance. Mercy, an occupational therapist in Uganda, explained to me that the therapy helps children do a variety of activities, from holding a pencil to finding work.

    As I sat with Eunice, I asked what she wanted to do when she grew up. She said she wanted to be a doctor. I asked the other kids what they wanted to be as well, and the answers were teacher and a policeman, just to name a couple. I smiled as I told them, “Yes, I think you will be a good one,” knowing that I can say that after seeing what MTI has been able to do. 

    -- Patty Hutton

    Providing equitable health services in Northern Uganda, where Pader is located, remain big concerns. HIV and AIDS flourish in the area, and Nodding Syndrome continues to befuddle medical experts. Your donations help children afflicted by these diseases.

  • Medical Supplies Shipped: South Sudanese Mother, Son saved

    by Tyler Graf | Apr 22, 2015

    Doctors thought the baby was dead. They couldn't hear a heartbeat and expected the worst. 

    The baby's mother, a young South Sudanese refugee, was struggling to give birth. Crippled and disfigured by polio, she strained with each contraction. There was no way the baby was coming via traditional means. He wouldn’t fit even if the mother had the physical strength to push him through.

    Although Kuajok Hospital in South Sudan is desperately short of supplies and training, doctors there nonetheless decided their best option was to perform a cesarean section to extract the baby. This might save the mother, even if the baby was dead.

    There was no way of telling. The dusty operating room was bare-bones, lacking an ultrasound, x-ray or a fetal monitor. So doctors worked fast, using a few new tools and know-how at their disposal.

    Just days before, a shipment arrived at the hospital, brought by a volunteer nurse who’d arrived to train health care workers. It contained medicine and supplies. Some of those supplies were used in training sessions with health care workers focused on troubled births. The medicines included antibiotics, useful in the event of a C-section birth.

    So only a short time after the shipment had arrived, the hospital’s health care workers were using what they’d learned during the training sessions to keep mother and baby alive. Doctors used the antibiotics to prevent the mother from becoming infected. The volunteer nurse assisted in the operation.

    South Sudan, baby Mike, Kuajok Hospital, shipment of supplies
    This baby survived a troubled birth in South Sudan.

    The mother would have died otherwise. The baby, too. They didn’t.

    Baby and mother survived because of your donations. Thanks to your generosity, this hospital had the supplies and training to save this mother and child. To provide more care to South Sudanese refugees, make a donation.

  • Mobile Dental: New Van Arrives

    by Tyler Graf | Apr 21, 2015

    With its tooth-white sheen still glimmering even after a long road journey from Texas, the newest mobile dental clinic recently arrived at Medical Teams International's headquarters. 

    The addition of the fully outfitted mobile home means that MTI's fleet of dental clinics has reached 11. Right now, the van looks like a blank slate; but soon it will be wrapped in bright red and turned loose on the roads, where it will ferry volunteer dental workers to locations throughout Washington and serve the state's most vulnerable populations.

    Weighing in at more than 24,000 pounds and reaching 40 feet in length, the clinic is MTI’s largest. It’s also the most modern.

    The inside of the van is decked out with state-of-the-art equipment, which will help MTI serve thousands of in-need patients – people who can’t afford or don’t have access to dental care, who are hurting because of chronic pain. Thank you for your support growing the Mobile Dental Program to be able to reach the largest number of people in the community.

    Check out some of these photos of your support manifested.

    Mobile Dental Clinic MTI HQ
    The Mobile Dental clinic in MTI's parking lot on April 21.

    Mobile Dental clinic MTI HQ 2
    Have a seat! A look at one of the clinic's two chairs.

    Mobile Dental clinic MTI HQ 3
    ‚ÄčThe Mobile Dental Program serves more than 18,000 people in Oregon and Washington every year.