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Monday, May 28, 2007

Global Micro Clinic Project in Palestine

This weekend's Al-Awda conference in Anaheim, California featured many guest speakers whose hope is not only to raise awareness of the situation in Palestine, but who also are working on projects themselves to improve the living conditions for the Palestinians who have been living under an increasingly brutal and illegal occupation for forty years. One of the guest speakers, Dr. Jesse Ghannam, a board member of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, clinical professor of psychiatry and Chief of Medical Psychology at the University of California, San Francisco, spoke Saturday of the sharp rise in health problems afflicting those under the occupation. So much of the news coming out of this area focuses on daily attacks by Israel and the infighting amongst the Palestinians themselves. In light of this, the ongoing health issues are often ignored in the discussion of life under the occupation. As human beings, we need to understand that the health problems which afflict all human beings, also afflict the Palestinians to an even greater extent. Under Israel's siege, medical supplies needed in the OT are not being allowed in and hospitals are impotent to take care of their patients as the machinery such as MRIs, CT scanners and kidney dialysis machines are in disrepair.

Dr. Ghannam travels to the OT four times a year in order to offer his own expertise in this area.
He spoke Saturday of the sharp increase in the incidence of adult onset diabetes within the Palestinian population. While many diseases require regular hospital visits, diabetes is mostly controlled by the individual monitoring their own disease and taking the necessary steps. Without this self-monitoring diabetes becomes out of control and other factors take hold. Diabetes when left unchecked results in kidney failure, blindness due to diabetic retinopathy, loss of limbs, cardiac failure, digestive problems, oral health problems, and even sexual malfunction.

Diabetes is a silent killer if left undetected. While the news covers the carnage, people are dying from a disease which has gone uncovered in the mass media. But there is something we can all do to help in this case. We can donate to the Global Micro-Clinic Project which is working diligently to overcome this problem. Let us not forget that diabetes if left unchecked and cared for not only affects the health of the individual, but also the entire family of that person whose health deteriorates or may even die unnessisarily.

The Global Micro-Clinic project supplies glucometers (the device which measures sugar levels in individual) and test strips to share by groups of individuals in specific locations, for instance apartment buildings. Once a month health officials visit these groups and offer inservices about health issues affecting them.

Following is an article about the Global Micro Project which was founded by a young Palestinian student studying in the US, Daniel Zoughbie whose goal was to improve the living conditions of his brothers and sisters in Palestine.


Global Micro-Clinic founder Daniel

Berkeley Undergrad Sets Up Micro-Clinics

KGO By Carolyn Johnson

- The commencement speaker for hundreds of students in the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley is a remarkable undergrad who came up with a concept that could revolutionize healthcare on a global level. He's already put his plan to work in Palestine.

Daniel Zoughbie, Global Micro-Clinic founder: "As leaders we can break down the confining barriers of insularity and hatred and guide into others into the freedom found in service."

For Daniel Zoughbie, giving the commencement address wraps up a remarkable career at UC Berkeley

Ananya Roy, Ph.D., associate dean & chair of Urban Studies: "He's redefined what it means to do well academically which is his ability to combine academics with public service."

Two years ago, Daniel came up with a concept to treat and prevent diabetes in Palestine. His grandmother died in Bethlehem from complications of the disease.

Daniel Zoughbie, Global Micro-Clinic founder: "There were restrictions on movement, tense political situation, and as I wanted to think about how we provide health care in this situation, I wanted to deal with this issue of diabetes and provide some kind of health care delivery system in the developing world."

His plan was to create mini clinics in people's homes or businesses, turning private spaces into public ones.

He recruited volunteers in Palestine - doctors and nurses to educate the community about diabetes and about managing their own healthcare through what he named Micro-Clinics.

Daniel Zoughbie, Global Micro-Clinic founder: "The Micro-Clinic is basically composed of three to six individuals and we give each Micro-Clinic a machine to share a glucose monitoring system."

There are now 50 Micro-Clinics in and around Bethlehem and Daniel sees this as only the beginning. Berkeley's Division of International Studies is launching a global Micro-Clinic fellowship program based on Daniel's model.

Ananya Roy, Ph.D., associate dean & chair of Urban Studies: "There's been interest in applying it to Afghanistan, particularly to post conflict societies, because partly what he's building is not just an infrastructure of healthcare, but an infrastructure of peace."

Daniel Zoughbie, Global Micro-Clinic founder: "What I intend to do is establish these programs for students not just at Berkeley but at every major university around the world."

Daniel heads to England's Oxford University in the Fall as a prestigious Marshall scholar where he hopes to establish a fellowship program there - young man already making a world of difference.

To Donate to the Global Micro Clinic Project please link here

About The Project

My diabetic grandmother died trying to get from Bethlehem to the hospital; there were no ambulances, and she had developed fatal complications due to poor diabetes education, restrictions on movement, and the stressful political situation.

Diabetes is one of the leading contributors to disability and death in Palestine. I am intent on doing something about this. During my recent visit to the West Bank, I identified the staggering dimensions of the problem and some key difficulties in treatment delivery and education. My purpose is to narrow the gap between the established clinics' effectiveness in providing care and information, and the community's need for health services. Consequently, I am proposing to establish "micro-clinics" composed of small groups of diabetic patients meeting in designated houses or businesses for the purpose of diabetes monitoring and education. The micro-clinics will be vehicles of empowerment that utilize community support and create public ownership, so that the affected population can move toward improving health care in their communities, despite unfavorable circumstances. To encourage participation, the micro-clinics will form a partnership between diabetic patients, university students, academics, medical practitioners and members of the community.

The Palestinian population is plagued by diabetes and uneducated as to its real causes, effects and proper treatment. The tense political situation only serves to exacerbate the problem. These observations are supported by the World Health Organization's assertion that the diabetes epidemic causes greater mortality in the world each year than the 3 million annual deaths caused by AIDS. According to the WHO, the per capita death toll from the disease is highest in the Middle East and parts of the Pacific, with "more than one in four deaths in the 35-64 age range attributed to diabetes." The World Diabetes Foundation reported that 7 to 10 percent of the population in Palestine is affected by the disease; another 40 percent of women and 20 percent of men are obese and at high risk. Furthermore, those who can afford health care have become dependent on medication rather than addressing the fundamental issues: a healthy diet, sufficient exercise and regular monitoring of blood sugar levels.

My desire to start this project is based upon my observation that many Palestinians do not have the resources or education to purchase personal glucose monitoring systems like those widely used in America and Europe. The importance of these machines cannot be overestimated; they are the diabetic's first line of defense against the noxious effects of elevated blood sugar levels on virtually every organ and bodily function. In addition to lectures and workshops, The Diabetes Micro-Clinic Project will provide shared access to these monitors - in essence, creating mini-labs in diabetics' homes and businesses. The intention of my project is to show that innovative community development projects like the establishment of micro-clinics in economically depressed Palestinian cities can help the affected population to transcend the barriers of poverty and facilitate the prevention and control of deadly diseases. The clinics will create a public domain whereby people can obtain education and treatment for a basic life and death issue. If successful, The Diabetes Micro-Clinic Project could become a model for future health care delivery systems in underdeveloped, conflict-ridden areas - vehicles for screening and disseminating health care information to the population and for monitoring blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other health indicators using new technologies.

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