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Upstate contigent in Ecuador to offer disaster medical assistance

Upstate contigent in Ecuador to offer disaster medical assistance

Domachowske, along with Upstate pediatrician Steven Blatt, MD, and internal medicine/infectious disease specialist Ambika Eranki, MD, is making that happen for pediatric chief resident Aeysha Phillip, MD, and second-year medical student Marleny Acosta through a 12-day mission trip that began Dec. 12 to the Bahia de Caraquez region of Ecuador. Upstate’s Center for Global Health & Translational Science is sponsoring the trip in collaboration with the Ecuadorian non-governmental organization (NGO), Walking Palms Global Initiative.

As with most coastal regions of Ecuador, Bahia de Caraquez was ravaged several months ago by a devastating earthquake, leaving victims homeless and without medical care. There, he says, Phillip and Acosta are adding a unique dimension to their learning experience. And, they are being introduced to global medicine and medical mission work at a time when they are deciding on their career paths.

“Through social media we see how quickly life changes for victims of disasters - homes and villages devastated, lives lost,” said Domachowske, professor of pediatrics and microbiology and immunology. “This experience is offering Marleny and Aeysha a closer, deeper understanding of how the lives of disaster victims are impacted medically, as these victims lost their hospitals and medical clinics, medical records and life-saving prescriptions. They are working beside doctors and other health care professionals from other countries. They are assisting in providing care in a make shift field clinic with limited medical supplies and prescriptions. They are being challenged, but that challenge is helping them grow in their profession in a way that can be  life-changing,” he adds.

This is the second Upstate medical mission trip to the region this year for Domachowske. In July, he treated victims for a variety of illnesses, including malnutrition, skin infections, respiratory infections and illnesses resulting from a contaminated water supply. Professionally and personally, he has participated in medical and humanitarian mission work for several years and often includes his family members in this work. His daughter, Elizabeth, an MPH student at SUNY Buffalo, joined him on this medical mission.

The entourage brought supplies provided by Kingsway Charities, an organization that receives medicines and medical supplies from pharmaceutical donors and dispenses them to medical teams serving the poor worldwide. Domachowske is making a personal donation of an iPad to a medical student from Vermont who is in the region creating a type of electronic medical records tracking system for victims.

Upstate’s Center for Global Health & Translational Science has a long-standing partnership with Ecuador. Domachowske heads the Center’s Global Maternal Child and Pediatric Health Program that combines research, clinical trials, education and training in Syracuse and in Ecuador. Center researchers collaborate with Ecuadorian researchers on important infectious disease studies. When the earthquake struck Ecuador last April, Anna Stewart Ibarra, PhD, director of the Center’s Latin America Research Program, established an Ecuador Earthquake Relief fund through The Upstate Foundation in tandem with a local community health NGO in Ecuador. Stewart Ibarra has been offering relief assistance in the Bahia de Caraquez region since the earthquake occurred.

Caption: Professor Joseph Domachowske, MD, provides medical care to a family in El Salvador as part of a medical mission in 2013. Domachowske, who directs the Global Maternal Child and Pediatric Health Program at Upstate, has done extensive work on medical missions overseas.