21 April 2014


Excerpted from Panama Update, April 2014 by Rev. Rhett Thompson, U.M. Missionary

It is both humbling and exhilarating to be a part of God’s amazing work to heal the sick and comfort those in tribulation. In mid-January I accompanied a group from the Panama District of the Methodist Women’s Federation on a visit to a remote rural community about an hour outside Panama City.  Two buses, loaded with gifts for the children (a belated celebration of Three Kings’ Day) drove the group of women and accompanying men all the way to the swinging pedestrian bridge that provides access to the community across the Trinity River.
We had a grand celebration! After the ceremonial words of welcome by community leaders, the children’s folk dance troupe delighted us all with a lively presentation.  The day culminated with a community meal of sancocho (Panamanian chicken soup) and white rice.

The children seemed generally much healthier than the children we often see in the Ngäbe Home- land, but I was disturbed to see a number of children with ugly sores on their faces and other parts of their bodies. Some had bad scars where previous skin lesions had healed. When I asked about the sores, I learned that the children were suffering from leshmaniasis. This particular zone is one of the few places in Panama where this disease occurs. Flea sized flies bite and suck blood from wild and domestic animals that serve as reservoirs for the parasite that causes leshmaniasis. When these same flies bite the children or adults, they inject the parasite. Standard treatment involves very painful daily injections over as many as 40 to 50 days. However the mothers of some of the affected children told me that there was no longer a doctor at the nearby government clinic. They were told to go to the Gorgas Institute in Panama City. None had attempted to make that journey, so all of the children were going untreated. “No,” I thought. “This can’t be!”

Determined to find out what was going on, the next day I googled “Leshmaniasis in Panama” and found an article in the local newspaper describing a new painless topical treatment developed by the Gorgas Institute. On Monday, I  contacted the clinic offering the treatment. After I explained the situation, the clinic manager said that if we would get a list of people in need of treatment, they would send a vehicle to pick them up and take them to the clinic where they would receive a medical examination and then be enrolled in the treatmeant program free of charge! You can imagine how my heart rejoiced when I heard these words. Following this conversation, I called our contact in the community, who in turn organized a census of affected individuals. For now only children 5 years and older as well as adults can be offered the treatment. Authorization to treat children as young as 2 years old is imminent.

We were not on a health mission. We just wanted to bring a little cheer to a bunch of kids. But God was at work bring- ing all things together at that precise moment. And God pre- sented us with an opportunity to do something. I think these opportunities arise daily. We just have to be paying attention and follow the impulse of the Holy Spirit. I believe that God’s love was at work in the scientists who developed the new treatment, in the Methodist women who have been making these annual visits to the community and in local helpers. I just got to be a link in this chain of God’s love and mercy. Thanks be to God! 

14 April 2014

Health Professionals Needed for July Honduras Trip

Scene in Downtown Tegucigalpa
Wesley UMC in Bloomington, IL is sponsoring a medical mission to Honduras again this year.  The clinic site will be in a little store-front church in the heart of Tegucigalpa, the capital city.  The dates of the trip are July 26th through August 2nd.  We still need a pharmacist, a nurse and two providers (MD, PA, or APN).  The cost is $1,200 which covers airfare, food, housing, transportation and tips.  All the support (non-medical) slots are filled.  

Anyone interested should contact Donna Schaad at dschaad@mchsi.com or by phone at 309-846-8231.

07 April 2014

Health Ministry Network: Looking for Connections

If you are the health ministry/parish-faith community nurse connection with your annual conference or you know who is the connection, please send me, Sharon Hinton an email so I can create a group for each annual conference. We need each other and we need to be more organized! If your state or annual conference already has a network please let me know AND if you want to help me create a network in your area I would be happy to hear from you! 

Sharon Hinton 

05 April 2014

MInistry to Poor in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala Grows

The Organization for Indigenous Maya or ODIM, continues to minister to the poor through providing direct health care and preventative education to those living in Poverty in Guatemala.  The project hosts both medical and work teams to the area and have received financial support from United Methodist groups within the U.S.

31 March 2014


Ensuring Every Baby Survives.
Save the Children, the noted children’s aid organization, has just published a comprehensive review of global newborn mortality and issued a call to action.  The United Nations Millenium Development Goals included a projected 50% reduction in newborn mortality by 2015.  Although a few countries have already achieved this reduction, most countries, including all of Sub-Saharan Africa, have lagged behind. Save the Children’s projected action plan includes eight essential health worker supported interventions around birth.  They are:
1.      Skilled care at birth and emergency obstetric care (including assisted vaginal delivery and caesarean section if needed) ensuring timely care for women and babies with complications

2.     Management of pre-term birth (including antenatal corticosteroids for mothers with threatened preterm labor, to reduce breathing and other problems in preterm babies.

3.     Basic newborn care (focus on cleanliness, including cord care, warmth and support for immediate breastfeeding, recognition of danger signs and care seeking)

4.     Neonatal resuscitation for babies who do not breathe spontaneously at birth

5.     Kangaroo mother care (skin –to-skin breastfeeding support especially for premature and small babies

6.     Treatment of severe newborn infections (focus on early identification and use of antibiotics

7.     Inpatient supportive care for sick and small newborns (focus on IV fluids/feeding support and safe oxygen use).

8.     Prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (during pregnancy, labor and the immediate newborn period).

Several recent innovations can be easily and inexpensively carried out by health workers in rural settings.  They are:

1.     Corticosteroids given to mothers  going into premature labor help the baby’s lungs to mature
2.     Simple bag and mask devices are effective in helping newborn babies breathe

3.     Kangaroo Mother Care was originally developed to cope with situations where incubators were not available to keep a premature baby warm, but has been shown to have beneficial long-term effects even where intensive care is available.

4.     The antiseptic chlorhexidine in gel form has been shown to be the preferred agent in initial umbilical cord care.

The Save the Children Report emphasizes that applying these techniques and developments at full scale is impossible without health systems that can reach all mothers and babies.  “Only a health worker who  supports births and is up to date with training and techniques can make sure they are used properly.  Only a strong health system can deliver these human resources, products and techniques to every community and every birth.”
Save the children is to be congratulated for producing this comprehensive and compelling report.

Submitted by Roger Boe MD

13 March 2014

Medical VIM Team Recruits Needed for Liberian Trip

Dr. Cherian Thomas, Team Leader

      The Oklahoma United Methodist Conference Volunteers in Mission is planning for  
a medical team to go to Ganta United Methodist Hospital, Liberia from November 
.2014, 1-15

 The goal of the team will be to work with health professionals at  
the hospital and to observe Community Based Primary Health Care at the Nenhwaa 
.Project that serves 110 communities in the region
All are invited but dentists, family practitioners/internists, nurses, and surgeons are 
.particularly welcome

Cherian Thomas, M.D. from the Kingswood Institute of Mission will coordinate and 
.accompany the team 
 YouTube and the UMCOR web site has information about the Ganta United 
.Methodist Hospital

Please contact Loris Foster, Coordinator, Volunteers in Mission for further details