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Medical Teams International | Official Blog

Get the latest updates from our programs in the field internationally and here in the United States.  

  • Nepal Quake Relief: Meet Our First-In Team

    by Katie Carroll | Apr 29, 2015

    While our Acting Country Director has been in Nepal since the quake, the remainder of our first-in team is departing now. Thank you for your gifts, which make this immediate response possible. Families are in shock, injured, sick and grieving. Your gifts are helping them during their time of most need.

    First-In Team

    Dominic Bowen200x300 

    Dominic Bowen, Acting Country Director

    Dominic Bowen is Medical Teams International’s Global Emergency and Security Advisor. Dominic has held a number of management positions in a variety of complex and insecure emergency settings in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. Dominic holds a Master of International Relations with Honors and is finishing his Master of International Law degree. He has previously worked for MSF, DRC, Red Cross, Access Aid, GOAL, RedR, and various NGO consortia.

    Sharon Tissell, RN

    Sharon Tissell is a registered nurse who has been practicing for 35 years. She currently is a staff RN in the Trauma Intensive Care Unit at Oregon Health Sciences University and a staff RN in the Pediatric/Adult Post Anesthesia Care Unit at Providence Portland Medical Center. Sharon has volunteered with MTI since 1999, when she first served on a disaster response team in Honduras. She has volunteered in Uzbekistan, Iraq, Uganda, Lebanon, the Philippines, and more. Sharon received her nursing degree from Mt. Hood Community College.

    Dr. Paul Neumann

    Dr. Paul Neumann has practiced medicine for over 12 years. He has been worked internationally on disaster relief teams for over five years, providing medical care and expertise. He has responded to natural disasters such as the 2010 Haiti earthquake as well as manmade crises such as the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon. Dr. Neumann has a BA in Biochemistry from the University of Oregon, MD from Oregon Health Sciences University. He completed his Family Medicine Residency at Fort Collins Family Medicine and received his Diploma of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, East Africa.
     Lai, Kwan Kew

    Dr. Kwan Kew Lai

    Ten years ago after volunteering as a doctor during the aftermath of the Asian tsunami of 2004, Kwan Kew Lai changed her career focus from being a full-time Professor in Medicine to a medical relief volunteer providing medical care in epidemics and natural or man-made disaster situations in Africa and other parts of the world. Dr. Lai has volunteered in Vietnam, Tanzania, South Africa, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, DRC, Libya, and more. Most recently she volunteered in Ebola Treatment Unit in West Africa.
    Dr. Lai attended Wellesley College. She has a dental degree from Harvard School of Dental Medicine and a medical degree from Chicago Medical School. She is certified in Internal Medicine and specializes in Infectious Diseases.

    Connie Cummings, Logistics

    Connie Cummings has worked in relief and development for 18 years after getting her start working in Bosnia and Kosovo providing humanitarian assistance. She has been at MTI for 14 years, initially as a team coordinator and more recently as the Asia Programs Manager. Connie has a BA in Religion from the College of William & Mary and has begun postgraduate studies in MDiv and MBA.

    Tyler Graf, Communications

    Tyler Graf is MTI's Content Coordinator.  Previously he worked for seven years as a reporter, freelancing for publications such as the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange and the NY Times Online. In his most recent position at The Vancouver Columbian, Tyler won regional journalism awards for his coverage of drug addiction and homelessness.  Tyler holds a BA in Journalism and Communications from University of Oregon.

    Emma Childs, Health Coordinator

    Emma Childs is a registered nurse for the past 8 years who recently achieved her MPH. She has experience in emergency response, aeromedical retrievals and remote nursing in the Australian Bush. Emma has responded to previous disasters, including 2010 Pakistan floods, 2011 Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines and 2013 Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Emma is English, currently living in Australia.
  • Field Report: On the Ground in Nepal

    by Katie Carroll | Apr 28, 2015

    This morning we received reports from our Global Emergency and Security Advisor Dominic Bowen, who spent the night outside in Nepal after he was displaced from his hotel room. He reports that Kathmandu is shut down and the streets are a huge bottleneck. People are in shock and suffering from psychological trauma. Shops that are not damaged are locked up, and there is no way to get water and other necessities. Some supply routes from China have been closed due to landslides and avalanches.

    Despite the chaos, he was able to meet with our partners on the ground to establish our response plan. We will be working with partners to provide a multi-sectoral approach, with MTI teams focusing on delivering health and medical services.

    The remaining members of our first-in team are prepping for a morning departure tomorrow. Each will carry with them 150lbs worth of medical supplies to help survivors of the devastating earthquake.

    Thank you for your donations to help injured and ailing people in Nepal, people who are grieving and traumatized and without the basic necessities. Your gifts make a difference and are sending medical care right now.

    Learn more about our earthquake response here.

    Donate to our earthquake response now.

  • 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.

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