Episode 2: The Tiny Bag Dilemma

The infamous question regarding Medical Mission Trips:



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My first medical mission trip was right about the time I was starting Pharmacy school. Just in those 4 years at the University of Texas at Austin, I volunteered on and/or coordinated over 25 medical mission trips to Mexico, Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica and Senegal; all with different organizations.





Regardless of the location or organizations, the model I described in Episode 1 was pretty much the set up for every trip (more or less). Year after year I am blown away by the sheer amount of people eager and thankful for the medical services we provide, but as I dispensed the medication to the patients, I was a little bit confused at the quantities we were providing



For patients with an infection- ok that makes sense because after a week or two, the patient should have completed therapy and we can easily provide that quantity in a “tiny bag”. Headaches, coughs, allergies, inflammation- all things that can be addressed with over the counter medicine and taken as needed. All is good thus far.




But when we are dispensing medications for our chronic disease patients, like people with hypertension which is high blood pressure or our patients with diabetes, those are medications that have to be taken every day.


So what happens when they run out?




I began to ask questions like: What does happen when they run out? Are “tiny bags” of medication enough? Can we give them more? Can we give them a large amount to last them until our next schedule trip and give them more at that point? Are we causing more harm than good?


These are all questions I found myself asking quite frequently.

Stay tuned as we explore these questions more and we’ll begin to see together how one question lead to another and the answer began to clearly point to a new way to approach our outreach. Until next time!









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