Nkiru Osude, MS 5, and a team of medical students and physicians traveled to a remote area of Haiti this past summer as part of a medical mission trip.
Their five-day venture included two days of mobile medical clinics in the northwest city of Gonaives. A third day was spent treating those in a secluded, mountainous region about a two-hour drive from Gonaives, where many had never seen a doctor before.
“It was very interesting to be in a place where medical care isn’t experienced very often,” Osude said.
Most surprising, she said, was that the medical team spent much of its time treating largely the same type of ailments as what they would typically see in this country.
“We would see things like high cholesterol, normal things you’d see here,” Osude said. “But you would have to use your history-taking skills to tease out what they actually had and then see what exactly you could do for them.
“Going into another country, you think you would see all these random diseases. But it was the same thing as what people present with in the United States.”
Osude said the biggest difference that she saw was the availability and cost of needed medications. Something as simple as a bottle of antacid in Haiti costs as much as a person there might earn in four or five days.
“It’s mind blowing to see health care isn’t that accessible down there,” Osude said. “It is expensive. It’s a luxury.”
Osude took part in a similar mission trip to Haiti through her church in 2013. She was responsible for planning this year’s trip and leading 13 other medical students, including Simisola Kuye, MS 5, also from UMKC, into Haiti. The students were from the Student National Medical Association, an organization that supports minority medical students and addresses the needs of underserved communities.
Osude joined the student medical organization’s board of directors last April and was appointed to chair the group’s International Affairs Committee. A large part of her role with the SNMA has involved planning the recent trip through a partnership with the Haiti Orphan Project, the same organization that sponsored her church trip two years ago.
“It’s a lot different to go on a (mission) trip than it is to lead a trip,” Osude said. “When you’re leading the trip, you learn to put other people above yourself. You learn to leave your pride aside and wear a gown of humility. It taught me a lot about myself.”
While in Haiti, Osude reconnected with some of the people she had met when she was in the country before and said she was surprised by the reception she received.
“It was more like a reunion,” she said. “I didn’t think they’d remember me. It was touching to see that something as small as washing dishes for someone can make that lasting an impact that they’d remember it years later. It was very humbling.”