P&S Journal: Winter 1995, Vol.15, No.1
Alumni Association Activities
The topic was tropical, though the message was less than idyllic, at the June 15 Alumni Council dinner. Guest speakers were Jonathan Rosand'94 and Sanjeev Bhalla'94, just back from their fourth-year electives abroad in tropical medicine and human rights, respectively. They delivered slide presentations on their experiences with medicine in the Third World. Dr. Rosand spent his first month at a 1,400-bed teaching hospital in Ghana, a former British territory. Lacking any sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic equipment, local doctors are obliged to depend on rudimentary bedside diagnostic techniques. Government policies further tie the hands of well-intended medical professionals. Dr. Rosand recalled the chilling experience of witnessing the death of a patient with cerebral injury while doctors, lacking medicine and equipment, were deciding how to treat him. When Dr. Rosand left Ghana, doctors were poised for a general strike to protest their working conditions.
Dr. Bhalla's account of a mission hospital in Harare, Zimbabwe, was equally bleak. A single physician is assigned to 200 patients, many of whom sleep under beds for lack of space. Dr. Bhalla participated in the rudimentary treatments of a variety of tropical diseases. The major culprit, however, is AIDS (it is estimated that some 30 percent of the adult population is HIV-positive). Given their meager resources and the absence of organized preventive measures, doctors can do little more than bring comfort to the dying.
Drs. Rosand and Bhalla returned to the United States chastened by what they had seen and committed to medicine P&S style.