The jungle medical clinic ultrasound’s battery ran out today. We were able to do about 7. Today we saw a couple from Nepal who have been here for 8 months and are the only Nepalese in the camp. They speak very little English. She is pregnant. Ohhh, so isolated – along with the horrible conditions of this camp. We are asking what happens to pregnant women. We saw a woman 8 months pregnant yesterday. She can deliver at the local hospital IF she has registered with the camp’s part-time midwife. But is she really supposed to come back to a tent in the jungle with her newborn????? There is nothing adequate. No water, no warmth, nothing. And the absurd allotment of diapers is 5 per week!!!! There are large numbers of rats in the camp, there are snakes, there are bedbugs. Marsha saw an entire family covered with bedbug bites and the children just scratched and scratched. The bedbugs are huge, well fed and rampant. Can anyone imagine a newborn in these conditions?
Georgia and Marcia continue working in the clinic. We send them the serious cases and they work on getting them in the referral line, which is months. They have to advocate for even immediate care. The system is so broken. A refugee will come to the clinic and be diagnosed with a need to see a specialist: gyn, ortho, neurology, dental, ophthalmology, etc. They then have to go to the camp Greek clinic, where 1 patient doctor works. They need to get a referral to the specialist in the hospital. We are told OVER and OVER again that they have gone to the government clinic, even slept there overnight, and the doctor will come in and see only 5 people and leave or not show up at all. No one is there to give them another appointment. There is huge frustration. I am told that IF one gets a referral, it can be up to 6 months before they actually get the appointment!
According to the UNHCR medical guidelines, refugees are entitled to the same level of care as citizens of the country they are in. Well, that’s not happening!!! But take note folks, the US healthcare system could be just as dangerous for our poor and uninsured!
I am so frustrated! The team is so frustrated! Imagine these people having to wait and wait and wait and maybe never have anything resolved. A man I saw with broken teeth from being beaten in a Turkish prison is in such pain and has only gotten the run around – after 4 months he still has no dental appointment. His pain is so great that he can barely eat.
“What can we do?” I ask myself.
And you, who follow this, ask, “What can you do?”
I don’t know, except we need to let as many as possible know this is REAL. Please contact your congressman, the UN, our responsible leaders. When I return, I want to go on a speaking tour. If anyone has venues available, please let me know. And any help setting them up is also greatly appreciated. Our team is going to prepare a report for the UN. We are data basing our findings and hope to have objective data that will tell our subjective stories.
Help us spread awareness of this dire situation, both inside and outside of Montana. This is a situation all human beings need to be aware of!