The Centre ValBio Medical Team left on the morning of Jan. 6, 2016 for its first of eight expeditions for this year. This team of three Malagasy caregivers including Lovasoa, a nurse, and Fara, a midwife, travel completely by foot with medical gear in tow to remote villages as far as 36 km (about 22 mi) away. The people of these villages live too far away to receive free medical care from the hospital in town, so the CVB team comes to them to treat common ailments such as malaria, respiratory infections, malnutrition, diarrhea, and tuberculosis. The medical team treats around 2,000 patients per year, and about 70 of those patients are expectant mothers.
Both Lovasoa and Fara studied to be a nurse and a midwife respectively for three years after receiving their Bachelor’s degrees. Fara has been a midwife for over two years, and Lovasoa has been a practicing nurse for one year.
Two interns from the CVB Winter 2016 Study Abroad group have made the choice to join the team on this challenging expedition. Before setting off to the first village, Senior Developmental Genetics major Frank Fodera and Junior Biology major Catherine Arias of Stony Brook University answered a few questions for CVB Rainforest news.
What will your responsibilities be for this trip?
Catherine: We are going out to help people that have malaria, tuberculosis, fevers, and we are treating them with free consultation and patient care.
Frank: I was hoping to be a set of extra hands, so I’m ready to do whatever they ask me to do, and hopefully not get in the way.
What have you done to prepare for the journey?
Frank: More of my preparation was geared towards making sure I had the right equipment and materials.
Catherine: We are bringing sleeping bags, tents, food, a whole backpack full of clothes, shampoo, towels, etc.
Do you have any concerns about this trip?
Frank: Yes, absolutely. They [the nurses] said it’s common to run into tuberculosis, and obviously that’s very contagious and very serious. So that’s a concern.
The team returns from their expedition on Jan. 11, and heads out again on Jan. 14 for a five day expedition.