A yellow fever epidemic in Angola could turn into a global crisis

Almost 80 years after the yellow fever vaccine was created in a New York laboratory, a massive outbreak of the disease has killed hundreds of people in [Angola], where most were never immunized.

Now, the virus is jumping across borders into other nations whose populations are also largely unvaccinated. More than 3,000 suspected cases are in Angola and 1,000 are in neighboring Congo, making this the biggest urban epidemic in decades. More than 400 people have died. There are growing concerns that Chinese workers — of whom there are thousands in Angola — will carry the virus to Asia, where nearly all of the rural poor are also unvaccinated.

The explosion of yellow fever has put severe strain on stockpiles of the vaccine. And the four major manufacturers that produce the vaccine cannot make enough to conduct the kind of campaign that would quickly halt the spread of the disease in other parts of the region.

The yellow fever vaccine is very effective, but, as it takes 12 months to create, it is now in very short supply. We have had difficulty in getting vaccines for our students to travel to Kenya.


Goodbye to Pat Summitt

Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in Division I college basketball history who brought the women’s game into national prominence during her 38-year career at Tennessee, died Tuesday morning at the age of 64.

Summitt led the Lady Vols to eight national championships on a campus steeped in the traditions of the football-rich south until she retired in 2012.


Philippines 2016 update

Greetings from the VIM team in Manila!

Our 6th and last mobile clinic site today was at Parola church, inside a barrio market. The church consisted of a 20 x 40 room, with no windows. I thought it would be really hot, but with fans, it was quite tolerable.

As an aside, it brought to mind the physics lesson that the body (or any object) gets rid of heat through any of 4 mechanisms–convection, conduction, evaporation, or radiation. When the ambient temperature is near body temperature, and humidity is 100%, convection is your only friend. If there is no breeze, either natural or artificial (a fan), you are in a world of hurt.

Today’s clinic was short, scheduled to end at noon, and we were done by 2 pm. So we “only” saw 250 patients. This brings our total patient count to about 1900 contacts.

The Lord has blessed us with good organization, a cohesive team, and excellent groundwork ahead of our visit by the Filipino leaders. I count it as a great blessing that I have met these wonderful people and was able to serve in the Philippines.

Pagpalain kayo ng Dios!


Philippines 2016 update

Greetings from the VIM team in Manila!

Today’s clinic site was at Cordona Bethel  UMC, in the gymnasium. With 4-5 hundred people in it, it was about as loud as a high school gym during tournament finals. If my patient had a murmur, it would have to be a grade IV, or I wouldn’t hear it!

Again, there were a couple of dozen church volunteers who helped things flow as smoothly as possible. With over 500 patients seen, we needed all the help we could get.

I didn’t make any unusual diagnoses today, but again I saw an amazing number of ear infections in children (as well as a couple of adults). These children are woefully under- immunized, which may explain some of what I am seeing.

We moved headquarters this evening to the Shalom Center Hostel, to be closer to our last clinic site tomorrow, and the airport on Sunday. It is in the city, near Manila Bay, so it lacks the beautiful grounds of Maryhill, but is quite nice.

I am looking forward to our last clinic tomorrow at Parola UMC. Please continue to be in prayer for the VIM team in the Philippines as we bring our mission to a close.


Philippines 2016 update

Greetings from the VIM team in the Philippines!

Today we traveled to Lupang Arenda church for our 4th clinic day. The church volunteer team, lead by the bubbly and energetic Grace Cho, had everything set up when we arrived. There was even a chair with a sign that said “Pediatrician”.

It rained last night, and was overcast most of the day, so temperatures were a little lower. This was a blessing, because a huge crowd awaited us, and they waited patiently outside the shaded courtyard clinic area.

We saw a whole slew of children today, and treated a lot of ear infections again.
I also saw a gentleman, a little younger than me, with end stage heart disease. He was cyanotic (blue), short of breath, and diaphoretic (sweaty). He was out of the dozen or so meds that he should be taking, and couldn’t afford more. I finally persuaded him to go to the hospital, and we paid for the transportation. A heart transplant is probably not in his future, and I can only pray for his comfort.

Tomorrow we will be at the Cardona Bethel church for our 5th clinic day. Please continue to pray for our team as we demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ in the Philippines.