Nasir Aziz 2017-06-09 01:37:47
In November of 2015, I embarked on a medical mission to the Zaatari refugee camp near Jordan’s border with Syria. The impetus behind my decision largely came from a photo that I came across on my Twitter feed that showed the body of a toddler named Aylan Kurdi floating on the shores of Turkey. I wanted to do whatever I could to help people whose circumstance forced them to risk putting their children on flimsy boats in order to traverse the turbulent Mediterranean Sea. I was graciously accompanied by my pediatrician wife and by my mother, who is a child psychiatrist. We were joined by 46 other health professionals from around the globe to volunteer our services under the aegis of the Syrian American Medical Society. Our one-week mission was to staff an outpatient clinic inside Jordan’s largest refugee camp that held a mind-boggling 80,000 people. The Zaatari camp is a fortress in the middle of the desert. We had to take a bus early in the morning from the capital city of Amman to get to the camp site nearly two hours away. More than half of my patients were children, followed by young women. I only saw a handful of men, which was a testament to the high degree of widowhood in the camp. Many children were stunted physically from poor nutrition as well as intellectually from a lack of education as most were restricted to just a half-day of classes due to a lack of resources. The need for basic dermatologic care was staggering. As the documentation was minimal, I saw approximately 80-100 patients each day. The two suitcases full of generous contributions from local pharmacies back home came in handy when treating conditions such as scabies and pyodermas that were resistant to the few medications available at the camp formulary. For instance, I saw many families that had been suffering from scabies for months who failed repeated doses of benzyl benzoate that are now hopefully cured after receiving donated permethrin or ivermectin. Despite the long bus rides, demanding schedule, and general exhaustion that inevitably followed the end of the mission, I gained much more than I put in. Any worry that dermatologic care would be a low priority among the refugee population was quickly put to rest. My fellow dermatologist, Aisha Sethi, MD, and I were extremely busy from the start. It was rewarding to see that our skills were easily transferrable and benefited hundreds of people. Nasir Aziz, MD, consulting patients in Jordan’s largest refugee camp. Without the demands of extensive documentation, I was able to give my unrestricted attention to my patients. This was truly liberating in the context of the ever-increasing need for documentation that has become so deeply intertwined with the practice of medicine. I was struck by the sheer appreciation and genuine affection shown by my patients who were buoyed by the idea that people would fly halfway around the world out of concern for their well-being. Although the thought of volunteering may initially seem daunting, I encourage any dermatologist who is considering it to do so without hesitation. "I was struck by the sheer appreciation and genuine affection shown by my patients who were buoyed by the idea that people would fly halfway around the world out of concern for their well-being." – Dr. Aziz See your story in Aspire! Aspire is currently accepting submissions for your story ideas. What great volunteer work are you doing? Are you chairing an event for a non-profit in your community? We are looking for inspirational stories about giving — and giving back. Submit your story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org today!
Published by American Academy Of Dermatology. View All Articles.
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