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Breaking Disease Stereotypes – Angola Day 28


Little Avelino arrived today with his father, who explained how this four-year old has coughed constantly for 2 weeks. They visited a health post and were prescribed a cocktail of antibiotics. But when no improvement resulted, the family took a minivan taxi some eight hours to CEML Hospital. On my exam, Avelino had retraction of his chest muscles indicating difficulty breathing, and breath sound indicative of rather straightforward asthma. We don’t have the luxury of inhalers here in Angola, except at exorbitant cost, so I recommended 1960s-style medications. These have more adverse effects, but are still effective. Within a couple of hours Avelino was breathing fine.


Asthma – an exotic tropical disease? No quite. Actually, most of the health problems encountered in southern Africa are not exotic, perhaps not even infectious. Hypertension, stroke, heart disease, emphysema, hepatitis, and a host of injuries are found throughout the world. We with concern about limited-resource, cross-cultural healthcare do well to focus on developing mainstream health service which provide care for asthma, for example. And next we must address those unique, albeit often less frequent, diseases of poverty found in our communities. Both of these objectives are addressed in the INMED International Medicine & Public Health Course that I’m privileged to oversee. Let’s assist many more children like Avelino to breathe more easily.


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