THURSDAY, MARCH 22: One local doctor is making a difference in a country where healthcare isn’t as easily accessible.
Dr Sylvanus Nawab will head to Guatemala on Tuesday for two weeks where he will treat hundreds of children.
This is his second trip to the Central American country.
Dr Nawab, a pediatrician at Edgewood Pediatrics, said: “I joined Iniciativas Comunitarias/Iniciativas de Paz in 2008.
“They are based in San Juan, Puerto Rico and have been in existence for the past 20 years.
“Iniciativas Comunitarias is the local organization and Iniciativas de Paz or Peace Initiatives is the international arm which does various overseas medical projects.
“They have undertaken medical outreach projects in Peru, Ecuador, Guatemala, Ghana and Haiti.”
Dr Nawab said after joining in 2008, he helped to organise their first African trip to Ghana for two weeks.
“The next major project was soon after the earthquake in Haiti where the organization set up a camp with the help and coordination of the Jesuits of Port Au Prince and still maintain a presence.
“The Guatemala Project has existed for the past ten years in the Mayan community of Caribe Rubel Tzul, Chisec District in the Peten Region, Guatemala.
“Iniciativas de Paz has built a community centre with a clinic and pharmacy, and helped train the local midwives in managing deliveries and complications.”
He continued: “There are a group of volunteer health workers from the community who are trained to identify common diseases, deliver first aid, stabilize serious cases and transfer these safely to the nearest health centre which is two hours away from the village.
“There is a sponsorship project which has enabled the education of two students through nursing school.”
Dr Nawab’s first trip to Guatemala was April 2011 for two weeks.
“An initial group works out the logistics and purchases all the medicine needed, in Guatemala.
“The midwives and health workers are given a two to three day workshop designed to refresh their knowledge in first aid and other health matters.
“The bulk of medical personnel arrive after the workshop and work daily for five to seven days depending on the needs.
“There are also non-medical personnel who also engage in projects with the children through the local school, like art and photography lessons.”
Asked what a typical day is like, Dr Nawab said: “It starts with a two hour drive from the town of Chisec where we lodge, to the village of Caribe Rubel Tzul.
“The clinic starts from 8am till 6pm every day.
“There is a dental team and a medical team.
“As the only pediatrician on the team, I run the pediatric side of the mission with the help of either a medical student or a recent medical graduate.
“In a typical day we will see 60 to 100 children.”
Funds are raised mainly in Puerto Rico through donation campaigns and fund raising activities.
“I make a personal contribution and through my network of friends who also donate towards the project,” he added.
Dr Nawab began working at Edgewood Pediatrics in December 2010 and is American Board of Pediatrics certified and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.