Saturday, December 7, 2013

Panaire Shendetsore - Health Fair!

Sorry the photos are kind of crappy - they were taken on a cell phone.

Remember this? On the 31st, we got a fax from the National Institute of Health at the D.Sh.P. about a two-week long mandatory health fair...starting the next day. The next day. On one hand, this is great: it's a former Peace Corps tradition that the national level has claimed as their own - yay sustainability! On the other hand, they scheduled it to start the next day. I can't even explain to you my incredulity. And the director called us in and made a huge speech of how amazing it has to be and OMG WHY HAVEN'T YOU GIVEN ME A PLAN ABOUT IT YET and dude, we just heard about it from you calm down.

All in all, it went really well. Some sites had one giant health fair in one day, covering a myriad of topics with doctors, nurses, and specialists involved. For some reason, my counterparts here in Lushnje were inspired to do a two-week long event. 

(Probably something to do with impressing the new director. Speaking of whom, he's here! So now I hope I can get some projects off the ground with the new guy's approval. The Prime Minister appointed all the new directors across the country and put really young folks in those positions to shake things up - namely, to usher out the old communist sensibilities which still dictate the levels of power here. Holy digression Batman.)

We covered hypertension, breastfeeding, breast cancer, child nutrition, autism, STIs and HIV/AIDS, first aid, road safety, family planning, thalassemia (a locally common genetic blood disorder), and diabetes. We set up at one corner of the park, by the Bashkia, and all the old men playing dominoes LOVED getting their blood pressure taken. I was also really excited to see that we were able to get test strips to do blood sugar testing, too.

The thing about getting gloves, needles, and test strips for the diabetes day is that we, as an office, have no money. So I have a sneaky suspicion that the money for those came out of someone's pocket. I usually don't hear about these things until long after, because none of them want me to offer to chip in. ("You're a volunteer! You don't get paid!" Yet I still make more per month than the majority of them - hellooooooooo, secret internal guilt trip...)

I actually enjoyed myself. Except for two rainy days, we had beautiful warm weather, talked to hundreds of people, raised awareness for a number of health issues faced by Lushnje-ites, spread education and resources in the community, and successfully brought the importance of prevention (in terms of health) into the frontline of the news* for two weeks. Yay for being healthy!

*Because, yes, of course, the news cameras were there, like, every day. Once is fine, twice is ok, every day? GO AWAY. We want civilians under the tent and getting information, not cameras filling the place up with nothing to film but the bemused faces of passerby.

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