IRMS physicians Dr. Debbra Keegan and Dr. Serena Chen volunteered their expertise on a week-long, multi-disciplinary mission trip to Cajamarca, Peru through the LIG Global Foundation in May. This is the 4th mission trip for Dr. Keegan who has served on the Board of LIG for the past 4 years as the Director of Development, “Each mission I have been a part of has been a wholly unique experience and though the intent is to help provide medical treatment and education to underserved areas and populations one cannot come away unchanged themselves”, Dr. Keegan.
Cajamarca, Peru sits nearly 9,000 feet above sea level as part of the Andes mountain range. This particular Peruvian region faces higher levels of poverty and issues of access to adequate health and education services than other parts of Peru. It’s served by a government-funded regional hospital with limited access to the kinds of technology and general medical resources we have here in the U.S. There is a strong desire to preserve the old-world culture while striving to be a modern society. The LIG team received a wonderful warm welcome from the local government and hospital administration.
The LIG team that traveled to Cajamarca in May included physicians, nurses, adjunct health professionals and volunteers. The group included a cardiothoracic surgeon, General Surgeon, several OB/GYN’s, an Interventional Cardio Team and a NICU Team. Non-physician volunteers included teachers, hospital administrators and even a law firm intern. “The take away message is really anyone who wants to can help and contribute”, says Dr. Keegan.
As part of maximizing her efforts in Peru, Dr. Chen worked with Hologic, Inc. receiving grant monies for a hysteroscopy machine they then hand-carried to Cajamarca. She then used it to head up a hysteroscopy program training the local OB/GYN’s to continue to use the machine as part of an effort to improve their gynecologic care.
Dr. Keegan focused her efforts to train a group of midwives on a procedure known as VIA (visual inspection with acetic acid) used for detection of cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among women in Peru. The estimated incidence is more than 5x higher than in the United States. The focus was to teach midwives the VIA technique for prevention and intervention.
“One can change the footprint a disease makes often by just teaching regional people how to identify it early and treat it”, says Dr. Keegan. “Our goal in Peru is to obtain the funding to have a van with local practitioners that can travel around the local countryside to provide screening to hundreds of women. Screening and early detection really does save lives.”
If you would like to support LIG Global Foundation in its efforts to improve healthcare for women & children internationally please visit www.ligglobal.org
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