Addressing a 3rd World Reality: Infectious Disease

Robert Munoz has been traveling to the third world since the late '90s. With experience in every region where we work, he is an invaluable resource in identifying, diagnosing, and treating infectious diseases, as well as caring for the patients.

Last Saturday, Robert Munoz facilitated a seminar on infectious disease for ten healthcare students at G.O.D. International. The purpose of the seminar was to better equip our students with an increased capacity for assessing health needs associated with infectious disease in the third world. We encounter a number of infectious diseases when we are abroad, and have taken it upon ourselves to be prepared to handle them. In rare cases, when people have been serving abroad they return with an infectious disease themselves. In our experience, because the medical community in Nashville doesn't see the kinds of infectious diseases acquired in the developing world regularly enough, they are often ill-equipped to accurately assess and diagnose them. We do our very best to prevent sickness while on the field. But, when people do get sick abroad, we have to do our part to help the doctors understand what’s going on, and together we figure out how to treat them. For this reason, and many others, we found it necessary to hold this seminar.

Rob opened the seminar inviting us to participate, not in a lecture, but an interactive experience. The things we learned were a combination of everyone’s contributions based on our healthcare experiences, both locally and abroad. Then Rob focused on our approach to healthcare as a community, that it comes not from the country’s best medical programs, but from God’s word. Together we explored our organization’s mission, to bring education, advocacy, and empowerment to the world’s poor and marginalized. Therefore, our approach to healthcare finds feet, not when we distribute drugs, but when we educate, advocate, and empower. We do all these things with faith. Though we do learn for people in the third world, as our goal is always to serve the world’s most vulnerable, we also give care now while we’re able, to those who need it, even when we’re not there.

Our time of focus was followed by a practical discussion, including common disease-related terminology, what we should know about infectious diseases, and scenarios based on our personal experiences. Rob covered seven things we have to know about an infectious disease: 1) its regional target population, 2) its pathogen, 3) its communicability, 4) its key signs and symptoms, 5) its diagnosis, 6) its treatment, and 7) its prevention. We discussed that though these objectives can be fluid and gray, it’s important to get a base knowledge, to have something to work with, in order to make appropriate differential diagnoses. Knowing these things allows us to ask better questions, and not look for answers too quickly, in order to help set us in the right direction.

To end, Rob encouraged us to think about some relevant issues, and then to ask ourselves whether our approaches to solving them fit without our biblical approach. Our biblical approach helps us know where to focus our attention, our time, our resources. He closed by reminding us that Jesus, our example, never left the sick. They were always in his sight. And they should always be in ours.