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Mar 22, 2012

Healthy Living with Friends of Pediatrics

Friends of Pediatrics and volunteer doctors from Virginia have been working around the clock in rural communities. About half of the population is under eighteen so the lines have been steady with patients that require medical check-ups. According to the visiting physicians over a hundred children are screened a day. Healthy Living this week looks at what are the common ailments that are being treated.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

From March eighteenth to the twenty-second the public health and community centers in a few Belize Rural villages have been abuzz with activity. The flow of parents and children were drawn to the centers at Double Head Cabbage, Burrell Boom, Maskall, Ladyville and Caye Caulker for a free pediatric check up at the Belize Outreach Clinic. The Clinic was organized by the nongovernmental organization, Friends of Pediatrics and a visiting team of physicians from the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters n Virginia. President of Friends of Pediatrics, Dr Cecilio Eck, says there is always a need for referral clinic especially in underserved areas, so the visit of the volunteers was most welcomed.


Cecilio Eck

Dr. Cecilio Eck, President, Friends of Pediatrics

“When I first started and I went to the outlying villages like Lemonal, Bermudian Landing and Scotland Half-moon, we used to see a lot of kids in the Saturday afternoons. But because there is a bigger team coming, I’m not surprised that the groups are coming out. The primary care specialist medical in pediatrics is really necessary. And you know the statistics; in Belize, fifty percent of our population is less than eighteen. So there is a need to get more pediatricians out there.”


According to pediatric resident, Dr. Mary Desoto, one of the volunteer physicians, they were just as eager to partner with FOB for the outreach clinic as well.


Mary Desoto

Dr. Mary Desoto, pediatric resident

“Dr. Irene Restaino, who is one of the pediatric nephrologists for pediatrics that we brought here with us; she is the kidney doctor for children, she decided to come with World Pediatric Project in the past—this is her third trip. And she and Dr, Eck discovered that there was a need for screening and referrals into world pediatric project as well as the other resources that Belize itself provides for patients in these clinics. I have gone on two trips to Honduras in the past and I really enjoy traveling to see the children of the world and to see what I can do outside of my home area. I speak some Spanish but I enjoy being here where people speak both as well. So it is nicer for all of our physicians who like to get out of their normal community and see what the world needs around us.”


Judging by, the numbers they’d seen as of Wednesday and the lines of patients we saw, it would seem that many villagers took advantage of the opportunity. Ladyville resident, Laura Ortiz brought out all of her grandkids for their check up and both patient and grandmother were pleased with the clinic.


Jamir Gabourel, Patient at the clinic

Jamir Gabourel

“They checked my height, my temperature and my pressure because I have bad eye-sight to me because I can barely see those small words in my textbooks.”


Marleni Cuellar

“Did they check your eyes too?”


Jamir Gabourel

“Yes ma’am.”


Marleni Cuellar

“And what did they say about your vision?”


Jamir Gabourel

“They said I got a very well long vision and that’s what the nurse told me.”


Marleni Cuellar

“Who brought you here today?”


Jamir Gabourel

“My grandmother.”


Laura Ortiz, Jamir’s Grandmother

Laura Ortiz

“I brought my grandkids to the doctors out here cause they are not feeling well and to check his eyes. They have many people that cannot afford to go see a good doctor and these are very good people so they come here and everybody get together to get better.  He get a full physical: his eyes, his chest and his throat, his teeth—they checked them out very well and it is very good for them.”


Marleni Cuellar

“Do you regularly get checked up?”


Jamir Gabourel

“Not quite. Only like I barely get checked up because I into school and most of the time they deh out yah and so I just come out ya come do wah next check up.”


Dr. Mary Desoto

“The first day we saw one hundred and eighty-five, the second day we saw about one hundred and ten and yesterday we saw I believe about the same or a little bit more because we had some people come in towards the end that I don’t remember. At least a hundred each day  and I have a feeling we’ll see much more today.”


The Belize Outreach Clinic has already identified a few children who will need to be referred for further treatment.


Dr. Mary Desoto

“We had a few interesting cases where we saw a child with a septic, infected joint that needed to go into the hospital so they were transported into the hospital. We’ve also seen some need in patients that have a little bit of developmental delay and we need to get some extra resources. So mostly we’ve seen children with general infections, some respiratory infections; but mostly some healthy children and then other children who just aren’t able to get to resources they need. We’ve seen some heart problems that need further follow up. They have a cardiology clinic through World Pediatric Project that comes in, they also have surgeons. So people that need—we saw today some burns—that needed to be treated by a surgeon so that a child can walk better. So they have these programs that are coming so we’ve sorta served as the referral program.”


But beyond identifying children who need further treatment, the check-in with the physician is also important for parents to stay on the right track with the children’s health.


Dr. Cecilio Eck

“With pediatrics, I know a nutritionist who actually blamed us for the obesity problem and hypertension strokes because they say if we start properly; with proper screening, with proper nutrition, with proper advice to parents, we can prevent most of the illnesses that affect the elderly or the middle-aged people. So that is the bottom-line; prevention is better than cure.”


With that in mind, both groups are hopeful the Belize Outreach Clinic can be an annual undertaking.

Marleni Cuellar

“Will this be a program that will be continued yearly?”


Dr. Cecilio Eck

“I hope so. The guys seem to very enthusiastic. The kit who arranged and organized everything says that she wants to make it an annual event. But I guess it depends on this fact finding mission for them to see that the ground troops are available in Belize to help them.”


Dr. Mary Desoto

“Not everyone has the great access that we hope for and so trying to make sure we provide access and treatment for someone who can’t always get in to the hospital. So it is a great opportunity to learn how to manage our practice even in areas of the United States that don’t get access as much. Whether we are aboard or at home; we can learn how to manage our supplies and our needs and make sure that people have what they need.”


Marleni Cuellar

“You feel better now that the doctors have seen you?”


Jamir Gabourel

“Yes Ma’am. They are very gently, they are nice and I learned a lot today.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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