Monday, July 14, 2008

Heading back to Yunnan

Hello blog readers! If you’ve seen the blog or spoken to me within the past 4 months you’re probably aware of my experiences in China. The 5 weeks I spent from late March to early May were truly amazing and I’m happy to announce that I’ll be continuing this journey starting July 20th for roughly 4 weeks.  I’m also excited that on this next China excursion I will not be the only student to be volunteering with the China-California Heart Watch. Along with Dr. Detrano and me, three other students will be joining us. Finally I won’t be the only one lost in translation. 
We will be carrying on hypertension research and educating village doctors in even more remote locations within Yunnan Province. Our focus will be on villages located in North West Yunnan, some bordering Tibet. Some of the highlights of my first trip can be read on earlier blogs that were submitted, but if you’re looking for a quick, abbreviated version, let me fill you in. 
Arriving in Kunming on March 26th, we immediately caught a bus north to Hui Ze County and stayed for 10 days in a township called Yi Che. From Yi Che we traveled to villages in the surrounding area gathering medical data and running cardiology clinics. We saw a very wide variety of cardiac diseases. Because our focus is hypertension, we were always keen on handing out medication and advising patients to practice preventive care. This would usually include telling patients to cut down on their salt intake, and especially to quit smoking. 
We also traveled to a village south of Kunming called Ge Bai Kong. This location was unusually scenic as it was located on the side of a mountain with a river slicing through the valley below. Other mountainside villages could be seen in the distance, separated by miles of nearly impassable terrain. Every location we traveled to we were welcomed with open arms and treated like family. Those we treated were so grateful. 
It was as if they had been neglected their entire lives and finally someone had come to help. 
Needless to say, I’m overjoyed with the opportunity to return to China and help the China California Heart Watch. Being able to practice medicine, make humanitarian contributions, and experience a culturally rich and beautiful country has been the most fruitful experience of my life…..and I get to do it all again.

About Chinacal Internship

For those of you who are unfamiliar with exactly what we're doing, let me give you a quick overview. Dr. Detrano is the president of an organization that he started called the China-California Heart Watch. He's currently conducting research in the Yunnan Province (poorest province in China) to study the effects of High Blood Pressure in rural villages and townships. Because of the lack of knowledge about hypertension and subsequently the inaccessibility of proper care, Dr. Detrano believes that incidences of cardiovascular disease (CVD) will increase tremendously over the course of the next 30 to 40 years. Currently 70% of the Chinese population live in rural farming communities, however, by 2040 it has been estimated that this number will decrease to about 30% as the population becomes more urbanized due to job opportunities that become available only by living in the city. The unhealthy lifestyle that is naturally adopted through city living will only add to the already frighteningly high predicted rates of heart disease. Through research and education, Dr. Detrano helps to raise awareness and potentially prevent what could possibly become an epidemic of CVD in China.