Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Even More Post-Mission Thoughts

Local doctors, nurses, physicians’ assistants, medium and short term missionary doctors, social workers, the long term missionary-priest. This would be my ideal mini-ecosystem for medical care in the village in Haiti that we serve.

The advantages of having local professionals is clear. What is less clear is how a well-paid team of professionals can invigorate the economy. High-paying jobs create an average of 4 other jobs in developing economies- I can’t cite the source at this time, but as someone with a business, accounting and economics background working in an industry which has created over 3 million jobs in technology in India and 12-15 million ancillary jobs in the process, I can speak with some personal knowledge to this fact.

A Haitian doctor would earn $6500-7000 a year. Even if half the money goes directly into the local economy (and it will because she would need to build a home, purchase grocery, pay service providers who will maintain the premises, coo, clean, attend to kids and perform several other functions), the economy would prosper so much more. Add to this the other roles I mentioned and it would build a core economic mini-ecosystem in the village. In addition, the medium and short term missionaries could help in building an EMR with internet connection for use by all future teams who come to assist.

In addition to this, a doctor needs to learn more and perhaps teach other aspiring doctors.

What would this cost? Here are my estimates:

·         Doctor’s salary: $6500
·         3 nurses: $4000 X 3 = $12000
·         1 physician’s assistant: $4000
·         EMR maintenance and hardware (high estimate): $2000
·         Doctor’s training and ongoing learning: $2000

For about $27,000 a year, we could support this team of professionals. What would take for it to be a committed figure, given that we are slowing down on funding the constructing church building? A core amount to be raised and entrusted for 2 years- this would leave 1 year’s expenses in escrow, earning interest at 2% or more at a local bank and paying for future increases in pay, while allowing the mission to fund the current year’s pay.


I went to the Wheaton Public Library to get another copy of Gary Haugen's 'The Locust Effect' for Alma (I already have a digital copy on Amazon). But I couldn't find one, though I did find Paul Farmer's 'Haiti after the Earthquake'. There is a touching passage about an incident Farmer encountered a week after the quake- this speaks so much of the Haitian heart for God and his people:

"Late one evening, about a week after the quake, I spent the better part of an hour trying to convince a gasping, skeletal, young woman, her lungs half-consumed by tuberculosis, not to join the exodus that had emptied the wards after yet another aftershock. We were both inside when the shaking began, and I remember putting a hand out to steady her oxygen tank, which weighed almost as much as she did. Never had I imagined such a scene: grasping the top of a heavy tank inside a trembling building and trying to comfort a patient and wondering whether the whole place was about to come down.

The patient's name was Natasha, and she was alone, except for a young man sitting on the bed next to her. I assumed he was a family member, or perhaps a nurse's aide. It turned out that he was a Good Samaritan, who'd never met Natasha before. He'd just traveled from a town south of Port au Prince with his own sister, badly injured when the quake destroyed their modest house. His sister had died a few hours before, he said, and he'd not yet decided where to go. So he lay down, alone in a fog of grief, in an empty hospital bed.

And then the ground started to shake again. He leapt up to join the general exodus, but saw Natasha straining against her life-saving contraptions, including the oxuyen tank. He stayed in the building and did his best to calm her. Blood was seeping from around the IV catheter in her arm; panicked, she was also tugging against the tube that piped oxygen into her nose. Claire Pierre and I arrived just then and begged him to stay until we could find a staff member to assume these duties. They were both there the next day, still unassisted, but by then he was sitting next to her, reading from a well-thumped Bible. He had also gone out into the fractured streets and found her something to eat."

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