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Bringing Health Care to Isolated Islanders, By Cynthia Abbott, MD

_D7A3627_350_300_c1_c__1My 18-year-old son is serving 6 months of a GAP year with MV YWAM PNG Ship (Youth With A Mission) as a volunteer on a medical ship in Papua New Guinea. This is a new ten-year project funded largely by the Papua New Guinea government along with private donations from Australia, New Zealand, and around the world. I was accepted as a their first volunteer dermatologist on one of the pilot outreaches this summer and was given the amazing opportunity to bring my whole family on this partially refurbished medical ship bringing health care to isolated islanders. I was asked to make recommendations for refit stage 2 to include dermatologic diagnosis and treatment. I saw and treated amazing things including diagnosing 3 new cases of leprosy, yaws, psoriasis, HIV, cutaneous TB, and various jungle infections. My teens assisted in the dental clinic with suction and education, taught personal skin and body hygiene to school-age children, demonstrated how to throw an American football, played games, and sang songs. My husband designed a mobile iPad app to assist in data collection and tracking from the over 300 villages the ship will be serving through each year. Overall, it was a life changing experience serving these generous, friendly, adaptive and attentive villagers who have lived through Stone Age to Rocket Age in less than a generation.  We saw villages built on stilts above tides that washed trash from nearby cities shores, villages built on stilts above muddy river beds that flooded monthly so villagers painted themselves with mud to prevent mosquito bites and malaria, villages on pristine island paradises 5 hours by canoe from a store with only a solar charger to power a single light bulb. Amazing contrast! Amazing people! Amazing experience. Dr. Abbott is fundraising to help get “Donations for dermatologic  …needed for sustainable dermatologic care. [and] This equipment could also be utilized by general practitioners or gynecologists with minimal extra training or adaptations.”  To donate follow the link to her indigog site. _D7A4125 _D7A4476