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Elective Competition Winner 2017

By Amy Lee

Elective Competition Winner 2017

Meet Amy Lee, a medical  student from Queen Mary, University of London and one of the winners of our Wesleyan Elective Competition 2017.  Here she shares with us her elective experience in Cambodia!

Here's Amy's second update on her elective trip in Cambodia.   

Greater things are yet to come 

 I watch with a growing sense of dread, the little boy before me who hums to himself as he arranges his toy cars in a straight line on the clinic table, oblivious to the adults observing him.

The temper tantrum a few minutes later that has him wailing beneath the chairs is almost an expected sequence of events.

"Expect the unexpected"

That was my mantra for preparing myself for the experience of healthcare in a developing country.

The unexpected though, was not in the acutely malnourished children wasting away, or in the patients plagued with tropical infections such as dengue, typhoid fever and melioidosis.

The unexpected for me came in the children such as this little boy whom exhibited characteristic features of autism which was a common developmental problem encountered in children in the UK, but had not crossed my mind to be present here in Cambodia as well.

It wasn't just autism though, it was chronic diseases such as asthma and epilepsy, and the unexpected came in the different way these patients were managed.

Child development services for children with special needs here came in the form of play and physiotherapy. I was definitely encouraged to see that there were things that could be offered, to help the children here.

Yet, there was a palpable sense of frustration amongst the doctors that gathered to discuss this little boy, a sense of wanting to offer something more, which was not available at the moment.

In the UK, there are stories of autistic men and women, children who grow up with abundant support to help them integrate into their communities as much as possible. My hope, is for these stories to be a reality in Cambodia one day soon.

Just the other day I was observing a nurse giving an injection to a boy with haemophilia before he was discharged.

"What are you giving him?" I asked. "Prophylactic Factor VIII" he replied. His answer took me by surprise.

It wasn't the first time I was hearing about this management option, but because I had seen several children walking around the hospital with fixed flexion deformities in their legs (a result of bleeding into their joints), I had assumed this treatment option to be unavailable in Cambodia. "We have just started giving this treatment here," the nurse went on to add.

Across from this nurse, a play therapist sits surrounded by a few children as she folds origami cranes to hang across the children's beds. Before seeing it with my own eyes, I would never have expected to see play therapy being offered for children in the hospital in a developing country.

Standing surrounded by new treatments being rolled up for patients, and the provision of a stimulating environment to improve the quality of healthcare services for children, I am cheered to imagine how greater unexpected things are yet to come for the children of Cambodia.

Watch out for more updates from Amy on her elective adventures! 

Are you going on an elective?  Head off on your travels safe in the knowledge that we've got you covered for problems such as cancellations for exam re-sit cancellations, HIV needle-stick injuries or unforeseen medical expenses with elective insurance from Wesleyan.  

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