Solving the most pressing global health challenges today involves a dedication to understanding their complexities. As future physicians, we represent only part of the puzzle. The medical support we provide to communities must parallel an appreciation for the unique culture, socioeconomic circumstance, and personal struggle of each individual we serve. Our team has gained an appreciation for this complexity through our experiences in global health.
Through our experiences abroad we found that the basic problems facing underserved communities around the globe are often very similar: limited access to clean water, medicine, education, and resources. What we did not find, however, was a lack of hope. The courage and will of the people we met is immeasurable. During their month-long medical volunteer trip to rural El Salvador last summer, Adam and Michael had a chance to work in multiple clinics and spend time with a local midwife association. Adam brought his guitar with him to the clinic and sang songs in Spanish along with the patients. Their singing voices defied all the obstacles and hardships they face, a testament to their strength and endurance.
As members of Timmy Global Health at Indiana University and Purdue University, Sonya and Michael have similar memories from their time in the communities of Guatemala and Ecuador. The needs for every community were immense, and our clinics were the only form of healthcare for the dozens of families we saw every day. We strove to make a connection with each patient, learning about their lives and addressing their worries. We were always greeted with overflowing gratitude for the opportunity to see a medical professional and receive treatment.
In the United States, we have the resources and technology to address the vast majority of global health problems. What the U.S. lacks is a widespread awareness and connection to communities who do not have this access. The three of us understand now that the way to combat global health challenges is by spreading awareness at home by sharing our connection with others to strengthen a collective bond to these communities. Our backgrounds in medicine along with our experiences abroad have equipped us with the didactic and cultural knowledge to directly care for underserved communities today while providing the tools they need to stand on their own tomorrow. Together, we can serve as liaisons to connect specific problems with engineers, doctors, educators, and larger organizations to bridge the healthcare gap in underserved communities.