Thursday, March 19, 2015

Cambodia Clinic Day 4

So help me out here. Another day at a school, hundreds of children seen, most with an illness or 2 overworking our pharmacy with dispensing medications. We are working in tandem and moving at a quick pace, seeing 220 children in about 2.5 hours. Do the math and you’ll get an idea of how we did in a 6 hour clinic day (okay I’ll tell you…534 children seen today). But that is not what I need help with. This morning I gave a talk on child abuse, one of the several clinical pearls I do each morning while we are on a medical mission trip. We talked about presentation, suspicion of, treatment of and protection of the child. We also talked about the cultural differences when it comes to parenting and what we consider child abuse. Do we impose our cultural standards of child protection on other cultures or do we try to understand the other side and look the other way when a child is being hit with a stick which they consider accepted discipline? What about the medical side? “Coining” is when a coin is rubbed hard on the skin making significant red streaks over the back and the chest. Purpose? To rid the child of fever and bad humors and is common here. But what about something more disturbing. Placing a burning ember on the skin in a pattern described by a local medicine man to rid the body of, again, bad humors? And on a child. Held down and burned. We saw such a child today. The picture clearly shows the scar of the burn mark. When the Cambodians who were working with us were asked about it, there was a shrug of the shoulder and a general acceptance that is a cultural norm. Not so with us. We struggled with it and wondered how we could teach the sensitive and true side of caring without harming the child. The answer wasn’t simple. They don’t see it as harmful, but truly a caring nature to help cure their child of disease. A parent’s love, genuine no different than our own desire to protect our children from illness, but to us incomprehensible as to how they did so. So, we shook our heads, and hoped that some insight to what child abuse is would cross all cultural boundaries one day. What say you? Other than that, we had a wonderful day…


In all things give thanks,