Taking the pain away

On May 14 2011, Dr. Hank Scholtens left for his second medical mission to Peru.

For two weeks, the family physician from Ontario helped to treat almost 600 men, women and children in Puerto Maldonado and the city’s surrounding areas, nestled in the Amazon forest.

Dr. Scholtens, along with the medical team he travelled with, visited remote villages of 300-500 people, sometimes having to hike for 3-6 hours through steep, rough terrain and altitudes as high as 3,600 metres. Donkey trains carrying medical supplies followed the teams to their destinations.

“The population we serve is generally poor,” said the doctor. “Health care is available in Peru, but only if you can pay for it, so the poor have to do without.”

The doctor brought medicines with him provided by Health Partners International of Canada. The team was thankful to have the right medicines to treat the most common ailments in the communities where they set up clinics.

Gratitude for the right medicine

A generous donation of medicines by sanofi aventis helped to treat the many complaints of abdominal pain and vaginal symptoms associated with infection.

Flagyl, an antibiotic, was used to treat cases of suspected amebic dysentery, an inflammatory disorder of the intestine transmitted through contaminated food and water. The condition is commonly associated with tropical climates such as the Amazon, and symptoms can include severe diarrhea containing mucus and/or blood in the feces with fever and abdominal pain. If left untreated, dysentery can be fatal.

Women in the communities received relief with a specific medication for another common condition. “Having Flagystatin with us was a real boon,” he claimed, and explained that compared to an alternative treatment for vaginitis requiring the use of two products instead of one, this treatment was easier for the patients.

Dr. Scholtens expressed gratitude for the medicines that were provided and said he looked forward to using similar products on future projects, as well as in his practice in Canada.