2016 Bloomin’ Uterus In Review

world

Happy New Year!

As always, it’s fun for me to look back and see the numbers of previous year, see what the most popular topic was, and which countries have been viewing the blog the most, and what searches led people to Bloomin’ Uterus.  If you’re interested, here’s a recap!

In 2016, we had 100,944 views!  Compare that to 2015 (29,334 views) and 2014 (1,1012 views).  That’s absolutely mind-boggling to me!

Keep it up! The more awareness we spread, the more community we create, the more we learn, and the more we fight for self-advocacy: the better! We are a strong community of Warriors and Sisters.  Thank you!!

The Top 5 viewed entries were:

1. Endometriosis & The Lungs with 12,316 views

2. What is Endo? with 11,187 views

3. Our main site, bloominuterus.com, with 9,101 views

4. Endometriosis & The Brain with 4,256 views

5. Endometriosis & Leg Pain/Sciatica with 3,341 views

The Top 5 countries with the most views were:

us.jpg United States with 56,651 views

uk United Kingdom with 12,805 views

canada Canada with 5,204 views

australia Australia with 4,524 views

guyana Guyana with 2,336 views

I’m hoping to continue to reach all throughout the world and continue to help search for resources, support groups, and surgeons in all areas. This truly is a global problem.  Feel left out ’cause I didn’t mention your country? Oh trust me, there’s plenty of them! Find yourself on this map:

 

And the Top 5 searches which led people to the site:

1. “the skin” had 23 searches

2. “what is endo” had 15 searches

3. “symptoms of endometriosis in brain” had 13 searches

4. “endometriosis in the lungs” and “endometriosis in brain” tied with 12 searches

5. “wurn technique” and “endometriosis in lungs” tied with 11 searches

Thank you for your visits, your comments, your stories, your emails, your words of wisdom, and your support.  We are definitely not alone in all of this.  And if there’s ever a topic or question you’d like to address, please reach out to me.  You can email me here.

On with 2017!

 

 

Kenya: Endometriosis Care & Support

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I’ve had the pleasure of talking with a new EndoSister who lives in Kenya.  She had all kinds of questions and I would like to find her some information about Endometriosis care in or around Kenya, as well as connect her with any local EndoSisters for support.  So let the research begin!

For those of you who may not know, Kenya is a small country (about twice the size of the state of Nevada) and is located in East Africa, bordering the India Ocean.  Approximately 47 million people live in Kenya.

There are four Kenyan hospitals that came up while searching for Endometriosis care.  If you don’t already have a gynecologist, please locate one in your area or consider seeing one at these facilities:

Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi

Ladnan Hospital, Nairobi

The Karen Hospital, Nairobi

The Nairobi Hospital, Nairobi

The International Centre for Minimal Access Surgery is a private hospital in Nairobi which performs laparoscopic surgeries for many conditions, including Endometriosis.  Not only do they offer surgeries for patients, but also workshops and training for surgeons.  And they provide many community services and low-cost/no-cost surgeries to government hospitals and rural hospitals.

A 2013 article in Healthywoman Magazine Kenya follows the story of Esther Mbugua, who was diagnosed with Endometriosis and (as of 2013) had undergone three surgeries for the disease.  Her story delves into her pain, the embarrassment, her depression, her medical care and treatment, and her positive outlook, even though she still has not conceived.  She has a great family support network, has changed her diet, and continues to exercise.  The article also features a great Endo Q&A with Dr. Wanyoike Gichuhi of Upper Hill Medical Center.

A 2015 article featured in Kenya’s The Star discussed Endometriosis and other common causes of infertility.  It offers some tips regarding treatment, and trying to maintain a positive attitude while attempting to conceive.  The Star also featured a second article in March 2015 describing what Endometriosis is and the symptoms/treatments.

A 2016 article in Nairobi News recants the story of Elsie Wandera, who suffered with Endometriosis for 13 years before discovering it even existed.  Dr. Wanjiru Ndegwa-Njuguna of the Footsteps to Fertility Centre  in Nairobi is featured in that article and discusses Endometriosis and the hormonal options, surgery, and lifestyle changes which may help improve symptoms and chances of becoming pregnant.  I confirmed with the office that Footsteps does laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis and women who wish to seek advise or have a consultation can reach them at +254700041955/20 528 3218.

Due to her battle with Endometriosis, Ms. Wandera created the Endometriosis Foundation of Kenya, which you can join their Facebook group here .  Elsie also shares her story, in-depth, with MummyTales…or you can email her directly here.

In 2016, Standard Digital published an article about a young woman, Njambi, who has suffered from Endometriosis pain since she was 13.  She has Endometriosis on her diaphragm and lungs, which causes collapses within days of starting her period.  Njambi hopes to continue to raise awareness of Endometriosis in Kenya, as well as encourage physicians to educate themselves on the signs and symptoms.  The Standard Digital posted a follow-up article in August 2016 that Njambi had graduated college and continues her efforts to raise Endometriosis awareness.

There is also the Endometriosis Foundation of Africa working to raise Endometriosis awareness in Africa, as well as bring EndoSisters together.  They are also trying to influence the government’s policy on managing Endometriosis and bringing better treatment to Africa.

There is also a beautiful blog, Stories of Courage, featuring EndoSisters and their Endo journeys.

The most important, and impressive, thing I learned today is how brave the women of Kenya are for expressing their Endometriosis journeys and banding together to do something about it.  It’s WONDERFUL that the media also helps raise awareness by featuring stories of these courageous women.

If you are in Kenya, suffering with the pain of Endometriosis (or think you may have it), please reach out to those around you.  Join the Endometriosis Foundation of Kenya.  Contact Ms. Wandera or Njambi!  Talk to your healthcare physicians and advocate for your medical care.  And – do not give up hope.  You are not alone in all of this.

Resources:

Central Intelligence Agency

Endometriosis Foundation of Africa

Endometriosis Foundation of Kenya (Facebook support group)

Endometriosis Foundation of Kenya (Instagram account)

Footsteps to Fertility Cenre

Healthywoman Magazine Kenya

International Centre for Minimal Access Surgery

MummyTales – (Article, March 2015) Elsie Wandera: Severe Period Pain has Been My Normal for 20 Years

Nairobi News – (Article, March 2016) Endometriosis: Why Many Kenyan Women are Suffering in Silence

Standard Digital – (Article, March 2016) I’ve Been in Pain Since I was 13

Standard Digital – (Article, Aug. 2016) Njambi Koikai Finally Graduates

Stories of Courage

The Star – (Article, March 2015) Facts about Endometriosis

The Star – (Article, Jan. 2015) Kenya: What Infertility Remedies are Available?

~ Again, I am a layman.  I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge.  Please take what I say with a grain of salt.  If curious, do your own research 😉 Validate my writings.  Or challenge them.  And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always.  Yours ~ Lisa

2017 Endometriosis Events around the World

2017

Here’s a collection of events for 2017 Endometriosis Awareness that I’ve found.  I will update this as often as I find a new event!  If you have an event and you’d like to add it, please drop me a comment below with a link.  Please note that I cannot vouch for the validity nor endorse these events. Please do your research before supporting any fundraising.

Online/Everywhere:

An Evening with Aubree Deimler (free webinar) – January 18, 2017

EndoChallenge – the entire month of March, 2017

Australia:

Adelaide – Endometriosis Awareness Gala Dinner, March 10, 2017

Adelaide – EndoMarch End the Silence Walk, March 25, 2017

Brisbane – EndoMarch End the Silence Walk, March 25, 2017

Gold Coast – EndoMarch End the Silence Walk, March 25, 2017

Hobart – EndoMarch End the Silence Walk, March 25, 2017

Ingle Farm – Endometriosis Charity Ride/Cruise, January 14, 2017

Melbourne – EndoMarch End the Silence Walk, March 25, 2017

Perth – EndoMarch End the Silence Walk, March 25, 2017

Sydney – EndoMarch End the Silence Walk, March 25, 2017

Wollongong – EndoMarch End the Silence Walk, March 25, 2017

Botswana:

Gabarone: Endometriosis Awareness Walk, March 25, 2017.  Email the Botswana Endometriosis Foundation here for more information

Canada:

Winnipeg: Winnipeg Endometriosis Awareness, May 6, 2017

South Africa:

Pretoria – Endometriosis Warriors Endometriosis Awareness Walk, March 25, 2017

Spain:

Barcelona – Endometriosis March, March 11, 2017

Various – Endometriosis March, March 18, 2017 – April 1, 2017

United Kingdom:

England: Birmingham – Endo Ball 2017, March 4, 2017

England: Brighton – Endometriosis UK Brighton Marathon, April 9, 2017

England: Lancashire – Endometriosis Support Group Meeting, January 21, 2017

Scotland: Aberdeen – “A Night at the Oscars” Charity Night, February 11, 2017

Wales: Swansea – Endometriosis Support Group Meeting, January 16, 2017

United States:

California: North Hollywood – Support Group meeting; La Maida Institute; 1159 La Maida St. North Hollywood CA.  Email Meghan for more info at meghan@missmeghan.com, January 25, 2017

California: Norwalk – EndoMarch walk, March 25, 2017

California: San Diego – Endometriosis Support Group, January 24, 2017

California: San Diego – Bloomin’ Uterus Endometriosis Awareness & Support Walk, March 25, 2017

California: San Francisco – EndoMarch walk, March 25, 2017

Connecticut: New Haven – Endometriosis Support Advocacy Group, January 23, 2017

Connecticut: New Haven – Endometriosis Support Advocacy Group, February 27, 2017

Connecticut: New Haven – Endometriosis Support Advocacy Group, March 27, 2017

Connecticut: New Haven – Endometriosis Support Advocacy Group, April 24, 2017

New Jersey: Paramus – Our Journey 5K for Endometriosis Awareness, March 26, 2017

Pennsylvania: Hershey – 2nd Annual Conference on Endometriosis – March 18, 2017

Pennsylvania: Mill Hall – PA Walk for Endometriosis, April 1, 2017

Guyana : Endometriosis Support Group

Recently I wrote about Guyana’s treatment of Endometriosis.  I didn’t learn a whole lot about the care offered in their country, but did learn that their healthcare system is in need of repair, and the government and international aid organizations are striving to offer better care for the citizens of the country.

Since writing that blog entry, I’ve received 1,300 views from a country I’ve never heard of, and dozens of emails from the women of Guyana who are suffering, or think they may have, Endometriosis.  One woman (a fellow EndoSister) I was speaking with, Melinda, stepped up and has now started on online support group for Guyanese women. ❤

If you live in Guyana and suffer from Endometriosis, or think you may, or have questions about the illness and need to know what to do or who to see, please join the group.  Ask questions.  Share stories and experiences.  Talk about what works, or doesn’t work, to control your symptoms.  Arrange meetings in person with each other.  Hugging and laughing and crying with women who know what you’re going through is so therapeutic!

It can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/330769713952617/

 

The women of Guyana may not have the best medical care available, especially when it comes to this illness, but they have each other.  And it’s a great step. May the EndoSisters of Guyana unite!  May they raise awareness of this horrible disease in their country.  And may the press their government officials, hospitals, and physicians to give this disease the recognition and priority it deserves.

Thank you, Melinda, for caring enough to reach out to others.  And thank you, Guyanese women, for reach out to each other.

I wish you all the best.  And I will always be here for you. ❤

Love,

Lisa

Guyana : Endometriosis Care & Treatment

guyana

**Updated 10/29/16: If you live in Guyana and have (or think you have) Endometriosis, there IS an online support group created by a woman living in Georgetown:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/330769713952617/**

Guyana is a small English-speaking country located on the northeastern coast of South America, next to Venezuela and Brazil.  For a size-comparison, it’s slightly smaller than the state of Idaho.  It’s estimated that 736,000 people live in Guyana, most of whom reside in or near the capital, Georgetown, .  The majority of the country is covered in dense tropical forests.  The rest is grasslands, marshes, and cultivated urban areas.  Guyana has an 11% unemployment rate, and 35% of the population lives below the poverty line.   Unfortunately, nearly 155,000 residents live without electricity.

According to the C.I.A., nearly 2% of the Guyanese population is HIV positive, the Zika virus is actively transmitted throughout the country, and the citizens face a high risk of diarrhea, hepatitis A and typhoid fever due to poor water conditions.  In the past, there has also been a high mortality rate for mothers giving birth and/or their babies.  Guyana’s healthcare system is a blend of private and public (free) clinics and hospitals, located throughout the various regions of the country.

There are approximately 383,500 women in Guyana.  If one in 10 women suffer from Endometriosis, that means 38,000 Guyanese women may suffer from Endometriosis.  And I have been contacted by many asking questions about symptoms, diagnostic tests, and best ways to help with the pain.  It’s what spawned today’s blog.  And if you’re reading this and don’t know what Endometriosis is, but you suffer from painful periods (among other symptoms), please click here to read about the symptoms,  And, please, talk to your doctor.  If you don’t have a doctor, please try to make your way to a clinic or regional hospital.  And if you’d like, sign up for this Endometriosis Disease map and find women near you who also suffer from Endometriosis!

Due to the very rural areas of Guyana, many people are unable to seek appropriate medical care.  Some walk for miles though, others travel by canoe or small plane, and yet others simply do not have the means to travel to the more-populated urban areas for medical care.  The physician-to-patient ratio is staggering : less than one doctor for every 1,000 patients, and statistics show that there are two hospital beds to every 1,000 patients.  A study published in 2015 stated that out of nine hospitals across Guyana, there were less than 1 (0.7) OB/Gyns, 3.5 non-OB surgeons, and 1 anesthesiologist per hospital.  That same study found over half of those same hospitals reported routine water and electricity shortages.  There are also numerous reports of severe understaffing for specialists, nurses, and midwives throughout the country.

Although the economic and medical state of Guyana may sound grim, there are people and agencies trying to make a difference.  The Guyana Chronicle has published several health-related articles, including ones that focus on painful sex, Endometriosis, dioxin awareness, and cancer.  It’s so wonderful to see the media truly pushing to increase awareness and improve medical care.    The Government of Guyana is continuing to take steps to improve the quality and availability of healthcare throughout the region, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on upgrades throughout the country, as well as recruiting physicians from abroad (and encouraging local physicians to stay and practice in Guyana).  The country also receives extensive aid internationally.  Several doctors and organizations have devoted their time and energy into helping train medical staff in Guyana.  Guyana Medical Relief, a non-profit organization based out of Los Angeles, California, secures medications and diagnostic equipment for the hospitals of Guyana.  Since 1984, GMR has provided $60,000,000 worth of medical supplies and equipment to Guyanese hospitals and healthcare centers.  They have also provided shoes to thousands of Guyanese children in need.  GMR is just one of many organizations helping Guyana’s medical crisis.

I had the pleasure of speaking with a young Guyanese woman whom we shall call “C.S.”  Five years ago, she began to have horrible cramps, heavy bleeding, and a swollen abdomen.  Painkillers would help ease her pain for a while, but her body eventually rejected them.  Then in 2015, the first day of her period became unbearable, nearly causing her to fall.  She rushed to the Woodlands Hospital, explained her symptoms to the doctor, was given Morphine for the pain (which helped a little), and was whisked away to an ultrasound.  She had cysts on her ovaries and surgery was recommended.  Woodlands Hospital was too expensive, so C.S. was transported to Georgetown Public Hospital’s gynecologist clinic.  There they prescribed her a birth control pill, Diane-35, for June through August of 2015.  On November 4, 2015, she had the much-needed surgery, which took approximately 45 minutes.  The cyst on her left ovary was 13.5cm and the one on her right ovary was 12.5cm; her surgeons were able to save both of her ovaries.  Biopsies confirmed Endometriosis.  One month after her surgery, she had her cycle, and has been monitoring her symptoms ever since.  She continues to feel good today, her periods only have slight cramping, and her tummy is once again flat.   C.S. has a 5-year-old daughter (whom she loves very much), and she may be her only child – the doctor explained how difficult C.S.’s chances of becoming pregnant may be.  She urges any women who have any symptoms of Endometriosis to see a gynecologist early, go with friends or family – it could save a life.  She doesn’t know of anyone else who has been diagnosed with Endometriosis in Guyana.

In July 2014, Miss Guyana Universe 2013 (and Miss India Guyana 2013), Katherina Roshana, addressed suicide, depression, and mental health issues. She also stated that Endometriosis may lead to depression, urging people to become aware of suicidal signs.

Many women around the world claim a decrease in their Endometriosis symptoms, simply by altering their diet to include less inflammatory foods.  If you’d like more information on dietary changes, I have posted several articles that I’ve written (click here).    Guyanese diet mainly seems to consist of rice, beans, fruits, vegetables, and curries. A traditional meat dish, Pepperpot, is a stew made with either beef, pork, or mutton, and is considered the National Dish.  Chinese, Indian, and some American (Kentucky Fried Chicken) restaurants are also becoming popular in the more urban areas.  Coffee, tea, juice, and alcohol are well-loved in Guyana; however, tourists are discouraged from drinking the tap water.

I assume the steps to diagnosing Endometriosis, hormonal treatments, and surgeries are comparable to healthcare around the world.  I have emailed various hospitals and physicians in Guyana to see if they could shed some insight as to how they handle Endometriosis.  If any respond, I will update this blog and let you know.

I have gathered a list of hospitals throughout the country.  Should you need to speak with a doctor about Endometriosis, or any other pelvic (or other) pain you’re enduring, I hope one of these can help you:

Bartica Regional Hospital in Cuyuni-Mazaruni is nearly a 12-hour drive from Georgetown.  It lies between the Essequibo and the Mazaruni Rivers.  In 2016, the hospital received major renovations, including to the neonatal intensive care unit and their operating theater.  BRH went from having four doctors, to having 16, and they’ve seen a dramatic increase of surgeries in their region of Guyana.

Davis Memorial Hospital & Clinic in Georgetown is owned by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, is staffed primarily by missionary doctors, and boasts of 40 hospital beds.  They are equipped to perform laparoscopic surgeries, as well as other procedures.

Diamond Hospital is the East Bank Demerara Regional Hospital and is 25 minutes south of Georgetown.  It treats nearly 100,000 patients each year and has been around since 2007.  Over the years, it has seen medication shortages (including allegations of an internal medication theft ring), personnel shortages, and broken equipment; so much so that the Public Health Minister declared the hospital “a disaster.”  A lot of the medical staff were imported from Cuba, which created a language barrier between doctors and patients.  The government has promised to get Diamond Hospital running up to par.

Fort Wellington Community Hospital in Fort Wellington and is an hour-and-a-half-drive to Georgetown.  It’s a small hospital with only 22 beds, although in October 2016 they received an ultrasound machine and have scheduled pending laboratory upgrades.  They are also trying to obtain a psychiatrist and are striving to improve the healthcare for those residents in their region.

Georgetown Public Hospital in in Georgetown, has 600 beds, and is a free, government-run hospital. No payments are collected from the patients. It’s the main hub where most patients in need of extensive medical care are transferred to throughout the region.  In 2016, they received much-needed critical care equipment from the Fyrish Support Group.  Many employees have stated they love(d) their jobs at GPHC; however, did complain of a lack of adequate tools and information.   One report stated there were only two nursing assistants available for 45 patients in the Georgetown Public Hospital’s Female Surgical Ward.

Leonora Cottage Hospital in Uitvlugt is a small hospital 48 minutes west of Georgetown.  In 2009, there were no midwives available and a young mother-to-be was turned away in the middle of contractions – she ended up having to give birth to a healthy baby at a private hospital in Georgetown.  There were over 17 maternal deaths in 2015 at L.C.H.  In 2013, it made the local news due to an ongoing drug shortage, non-functoning toilets for patients or staff, and the discovery of a stillborn fetus in the nurse’s fridge.  However, in 2016, the Public Health Minister pledged that the hospital was to receive a complete renovation of their maternity unit – to make it a safe and healthy place for women to give birth.

Lethem Hospital in Lethem, and is roughly a 10-hour drive to Georgetown.  In mid-2016, the government decided that Lethem Hospital was to become the region’s hospital, but in order to achieve this status there needed to be more specialists and the staff must learn to work together, learn team protocols, better record keeping, etc.  If patients need surgery, they are tranported to Georgetown or Brazil.  And many residents fear inadequate medical services as well as the language barrier of Brazil.  And, like much of the hospitals around the country, there are complaints of medication shortages at Letham.

Linden Hospital Complex in about an hour-and-a-half south of Georgetown.  In July 2016, it hosted a National Women’s Conference.  Some even claim it is the best hospital in Guyana; although, it may be facing a government audit.  L.H.C. also opened the Laparoscopic Surgery Center in 2014, working in collaboration with specialists from China.

Mahaicony Hospital in Mahaicony is about an hour from Georgetown.  In February, 2016, there were reports that the hospital did not have a functioning paediatric ward, despite a paediatrician working there.  Residents claimed they needed to travel to Georgetown for paediatric care and are requesting the governtment’s help. The facility received a $2,000,000 ultrasound machine in August of 2016 thanks to the efforts of Guyana Medical Relief.  The donation will save patients of the area the drive to Georgetown for ultrasound imaging studies.

Mahdia District Hospital is a six to nine hour drive on dirt roads from the capital.  The hospital has limited power every day linked to a small grid (6pm-6am), as well as the use of a generator  (10am-2pm) and solar power (only powers the radio and vacinne fridge). You could imagine the difficulties a lack of power presents to the hospital and patients.

Mibicuri Hospital in the Black Bush Polder area has less than two dozen nurses and doctors to serve approximately 4,000 area residents.  Efforts are ongoing to increase the staff size at several region hospitals.  Albeit small, M.H. is commended for the friendly attitudes of staff, their professionalism, and the cleanliness of the facilities. Praises aside, it also faces periods of darkness if there are power failures and the emergency generator does not work (apparently, this is more often than not).

New Amsterdam Regional Hospital in New Amsterdam and sees 20,000 patients per day.  It has increased the services it provides, but has not had a significant increase in staff members to provide those services.  The lack of adequate staff may cause treatment delays and/or the need for medical transport.

Port Mourant Hospital and Ophthalmology Center in Port Mourant (a 2-hour drive from Georgetown) boasts of 53 beds and offers primary healthcare, minor surgeries, and pediatric services.

Skeldon Hospital in Berbice is a three hour drive to Georgetown provides care to 200-250 people per day.  In 2015, the hospital received major renovations, including the addition of an operating theater, recovery room, and intensive care unit.  However, some staff members have complained of dirty well water, including reports of worms and moss passing through the faucet taps.   Many nurses also complained of bats infesting the ceilings of their dormitory.

St. Joseph Mary Hospital in Georgetown is a non-profit hospital.  It offers 67 beds, has 200+ staff, and is available to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Suddie Public Hospital is along the Essequibo coast and staffs 30 physicians.  In 2015, an overhaul was announced to repair shoddy electrical work, roof leaks, and water damage, as well as restore function to the operating theater and upgrade equipment.  The doctors have complained, publicly, about the conditions they continue to work with: clean drinking water is not provided, broken toilets, no air conditioning, the high risk of contracting mosquito-borne disease, and a lack of sleeping quarters and restrooms for staff, just to name a few.  S.P.H. has also suffered drug, supply, and staff shortages.  However, the Guyanese government promises to bring change to the lacking hospital.

West Demerara Regional Hospital in Vreed en Hoop is a 30-minute drive to Georgetown.  It’s also slated to undergo major upgrades to end drug and equipment shortages.

Woodlands Hospital is a private hospital in Georgetown, which offers a broad range of medical services to the people of Guyana, including Zika testing, specialty surgeries, and full diagnostic imaging studies.  Unfortunately, it has been the target of a robberies in July 2013 ($1,100,000 was taken) and again in October 2016 (undisclosed amount was taken).

If you have any additional information to any clinics or hospitals in Guyana, please feel free to let me know in the Comments section below.  Also, if you have Endometriosis and want me to share your story, I’d be happy to! Just let me know!   And I’d like to extend a very special thank you to “C.S.” – thank you for being brave enough to step out of the shadows to shed some light on your story.  And for giving others the courage to do the same. ❤

Let’s connect the women of Guyana – you are NOT alone in this!

Yours,

Lisa

Resources:

Best Country Reports – (Graphic; 2007) Population Density Map of Guyana

Caribbean Medical News – (Article; Oct. 2013) Diamond Hospital Guard “Unearths” Drugs Racket, Ejected from Compound

Central Intelligence Agency

Citizens Report – (Article; May 2016) Major Shortage of Drugs at Lethem Regional Hospital

Cleveland.com – (Article; May 2013) University Hospitals Program Making Strides Training OB-GYNs in Guyana

Country Meters

Davis Memorial Hospital & Clinic

Guyana Chronicle – (Article; Aug. 2010) Explaining Your Medicines

Guyana Chronicle – (Article; Jan. 2014) How the Flames of Burnished Trash Raise Hell for Humans

Guyana Chronicle – (Article; Aug. 2016) Mahaicony Hospital Ultrasound Services Upgraded

Guyana Chronicle – (Article; Feb. 2014) Mibicuri Hospital Staffers Lauded for Patient-Friendly Environment.

Guyana Chronicle – (Article; July 2014) Miss Guyana Universe 2013 Shares her Ideas on Suicide and its Prevention

Guyana Chronicle – (Article; Feb. 2015) Port Mourant – a Thriving Community Where Humble Residents Appreciate Gov’t Efforts

Guyana Chronicle – (Article; June 2015) Skeldon Hospital Staffers Raise Issues with Public Health Minister – as Construction Works Move Apace at Institution

Guyana Diaspora ProjectOverseas-Based Charity Donates Heart Marchines – to Mahaicony, Bartica Hospitals

Guyana Government Information Agency – (Article; June 2016) All Regional Hospitals’ Theaters to be Functional

Guyana Government Information Agency – (Article; May 2016) GPHC Gets Medical Equipment from Fyrish Support Group

Guyana Government Information Agency – (Article; Aug. 2016) Lethem Hospital to Become Regional Institution – Public Health Ministry Working on Sourcing Specialists

Guyana News Network – (Article; Oct. 2015) Three Hospitals to be Upgraded

Guyana Times – (Letter to Editor; Sept. 2016) Deplorable Conditions for Doctors at Suddie Hospital

Guyana Times – (Article; Oct. 2016) Fort Wellington Hospital Commissions Ultrasound Unit

Guyana Times – Article; Oct. 2016) Govt Flouts Regulations to Finance Linden Hospital

Guyana Times – (Article; July 2016) Leonora Cottage Hospital Facing Drug Shortage

Guyana Times – (Article; Oct. 2016) Lone Gunman Storms Woodlands Hospital

Guyana Times – (Article; Oct. 2016) Woodlands Hospital Launches Zika Testing in Guyana

Guyanese Online – (Blog) We Care 2014 Medical & Educational Mission: July 24-July 31, 2016

Hott Caribbean Radio – (Article; May 2013) (Gyuana) Leonora Regional Hospital…Non-Functioning Toilets at the Hospitals is an Embarassment – Minister

Indeed.com

iNewsGuyana – (Article; Feb. 2016) Mahaicony Cottage Hospital Paediatric Ward ‘Out of Service’

iNewsGuyana – (Article; June 2015) ‘Suddie Hospital theatre is a disgrace’; Major Overhaul Planned

Journal of Epidemiology and Global Health – (Study; March 2015) Anaesthesia, Surgery, Obstetrics, and Emergency Care in Guyana

Kaieteur News – (Article; Sept. 2015) Diamond Hospital is Turning Out to be a Disaster – Public Health Minister

Kaieteur News – (Article; Feb. 2013) Diamond Hospital Treated 80,012 Patients Last Year

Kaieteur News – (Article; April 2016) Endometriosis: A Common Disorder in Women

Kaieteur News – (Article; Sept. 2016) Fort Wellington Hospital Now Offers Ultrasound Services

Kaieteur News – (Article; Jan. 2009) Leonora Cottage Hospital Turns Pregnant Woman Away

Kaieteur News – (Article; Jan. 2016) Leonora Hospital’s Maternity Unit to Benefit from ‘Complete Makeover’

Kaieteur News – (Article; April 2012) Lethem Hospital Not Functioning to Residents’ Expectations

Kaieteur News – (Article; July 2014) Mibicuri Hospital Left in Darkness After Storm

Kaieteur News – (Article; May 2015) West Demerara Hospital to be Significantly Upgraded – Public Health Minister

Mercy InternationalMercy International

Ministry of the Presidency – (Article; May 2016) Massive Transformation at Bartica Regional Hospital – Referrals to GPHC Reduced by 50%

Ministry of the Presidency – (Article; Nov. 2015) US$14M to Upgrade Bartica, Suddie, West Demerara Hospitals – Contract of Specialty Hospital to be Reviewed

My Hospital Vision

NewsNow – (Article; April 2016) Skeldon, Mibicuri & Port Mourant Hospitals Working to Improve Service

Parliament of the Co-Operative Republic of GuyanaBudget 2012

Pitt Chronicle – (Article; Feb. 2016) In Guyana, Improving Health Care for Mothers and Babies

Powering HealthGuyana: Mahdia District Hospital

PressReader – (Article; Oct. 2016) Suddie is Far From the Best Hospital in Region Two

Safari The Globe

Simply Guyana

Simply Guyana – St. Joseph Mary Hospital

Stabroek News – (Article; Oct. 2007) Diamond gets $140M Hospital

Stabroek News – (Article; Oct. 2014) Linden Hospital Complex Laparoscopic Centre Commissioned

Stabroek News – (Article; Aug. 2015) Linden Hospital Complex Receives Defibrillator

Stabroek News – (Article; June 2015) Skeldon Hospital Undergoing Reconstruction

Stabroek News – (Article; March 2016) Staff Shortage Affecting New Amsterdam Hospital – Medical Superintendent

Stabroek News – (Article; July 2013) Taxi Driver Remanded Over Woodlands Hospital Robbery – Claims Car was Hijacked at Gunpoint

The Electives Network

University Hospitals MacDonald Women’s Hospital – (Article) Building Women’s Health Bridges in Guyana

University Hospitals MacDonald Women’s Hospital

Woodlands Hospital

~ Again, I am a layman.  I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge.  Please take what I say with a grain of salt.  If curious, do your own research 🙂 Validate my writings.  Or challenge them.  And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always.  Yours ~ Lisa

Antigua & Barbuda : Endometriosis Care and Support

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As you may already know, I like to research Endo care around the world.  Today, we’re traveling to Antigua & Barbuda (I’ve had a few blog views from that location…). Who doesn’t like an island destination?

Antigua and Barbuda are a set of islands in the Caribbean and is a very popular tourist destination  They’re 15 minutes apart from each other (by air) or 90 minutes (by ferry).

Antigua is 14 miles long and 11 miles wide, and is where most of the populace live.  Cute town names, such as “Old Road,” “Jolly Harbour,” and “Free Town.”  Barbuda is undeveloped and even smaller, boasting a whopping 68 square miles, and one town, Codrington.  Together, the islands house 92,500 residents, not including the tourists.   For comparison, the islands, combined, are a little over twice the size of Washington, D.C.

Antigua has 26 community health clinics and 1 public hospital.  Some of these clinics look like nothing more than houses in small towns, but they are healthcare clinics, nonetheless.  I’ve reached out to some of those facilities for more information on how they may treat Endometriosis (keep in mind there’s no bonefide “excision specialists” on the island)…but that doesn’t mean that a great surgeon/OBGYN isn’t available.

Hannah Thomas Hospital on Barbuda has 1 8-bed medical facility.  It’s the only medical facility on Barbuda.  They handle mild to moderate surgeries, and ship any major medical emergencies off to Antigua.

Mount St. John’s Medical Centre in the capital is a 185 bed teaching hospital.  I’ve emailed them for more information and if they treat Endometriosis, but have not yet heard back.

Adelin Medical Centre in St. John’s is a non-profit, 18-bed clinic.  They offer surgical and gynecological care. In 2010, the clinic hit financial difficulties and had to terminate many staff members and was unable to pay salaries.  In 2013, the building was up for auction.  I cannot confirm if this Medical Centre is, or isn’t, still in practice.

Dr. Dane Abbott is an OB/GYN at the The Women’s Clinic in St. John’s.  I’ve emailed them for more information and if they treat Endometriosis, but have not yet heard back.

Free Clinic of English Harbor in English Harbour is run by the medical and nursing students of the University of Health Sciences Antigua.  It’s open twice a week and they roughly see 10 patients a day; however, they do not have the staff or equipment for Endometriosis excision surgery and have referred me to speak with Dr. Mansoor or Dr. Martin.  I emailed them both (here’s to hoping they respond).

Dr. Richard Salter is a Dallas, TX OB/GYN who used to take mission trips with his wife to A&B to care for the women.  I’ve emailed him for more details on their visits to the islands, but have not yet heard back.

Dr. Raymond Mansoor is an OB/GYN at the Mansoor Medical for Women’s Health in St. John’s.  He seems to specialize in infertility and IVF treatments, but is also a resident physician at St. John’s Medical Centre and the Adelin Medical Center. I’ve emailed them for more information and if they treat Endometriosis, but have not yet heard back.  One EndoSister from Antigua wrote me; Dr. Mansoor referred her to Jamaica for her excision surgery.  Options are limited to those on the islands, and you do what you must.  That being said, she absolutely LOVES Dr. Mansoor and speaks very highly of him, and he is still her doctor.

Dr. Gwendolyn Fevrier-Roberts is an OB/GYN at Rovier Medical in St. John’s has been practicing since 1989.  She also practices at the Adelin Medical Center for any gynecological surgeries.  I’ve emailed them for more information and if they treat Endometriosis, but have not yet heard back.

Dr. Andre Winter an OB/GYN of Winter’s Medical Centre in St. John’s was interviewed in the September 2008 edition of Business Focus Antigua Barbuda magazine.  The clinic boasts of an outpatient surgical center, Dr. Winter’s gynecological expertise, as well as a urologist, general surgeon, and internist.  The email address for Winters Medical Centre was bounced back as bad…

On September 22, 2014, Good Morning Antigua & Barbuda interviewed Dr. Dean Martin, a gynecologist who is intimately familiar with treating the disease, as well as fibroids and chronic pelvic pain.  It was a great awareness campaign for the women of the islands.  The videos can be found here.  I attempted to email Dr. Martin, but the only addresses I could find (or were given) came back as bad.  Hoping he’s still in practice and helping women abroad.

If you live in the islands and have Endometriosis and wish to share your experience, please click here.  And if you have a doctor you love and trust that treats Endometriosis, please let me know who they are so I may update this blog.  I would love to hear from you!

Resources:

ABS TV Radio Antigua & Barbuda – GMAB Interviews Dr. Dean Martin Obstetrician and Gynecologist about Endometriosis

Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda Buzz

Antigua Nice LTD

Business Focus Antigua Barbuda

Commonwealth Health Online

Mansoor Medical

Mount St. John’s Medical Centre

Rovier Medical 

The Daily Observer

The Embassy of the United States

The World Factbook

University of Health Sciences Antigua

~ Again, I am a layman.  I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge.  Please take what I say with a grain of salt.  If curious, do your own research 😉 Validate my writings.  Or challenge them.  And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always.  Yours ~ Lisa

Iceland : Endometriosis Care & Support

It’s that time, again!  Time to pick a random country and analyze how they deal with Endometriosis.  Today we’ve chosen Iceland (as of today, we’ve had 13 views from Iceland).

Iceland is a little bit smaller than Cuba (40,000 sq. miles) and sports roughly 329,000 people and has a 5% unemployment rate.  I also learned that Iceland doesn’t charge for upper secondary education (think of this as a junior college with most attendees between 16-20 years old), nor does it charge tuition for university attendance!  That’s just so awesome!

Healthcare in Iceland is a universal healthcare system which all residents support through their taxes.  All legal residents are covered and most visits are free (hospital and outpatient visits), although General Practitioners and Specialists charge fees.  Patients don’t need a referral from their GP to go to a specialist, either.  They can just…go!

The Icelandic Endometriosis Society was founded in 2006 and has been busy with events to raise awareness and show support for EndoSisters in their country and recently celebrated their 10-year anniversary!

Iceland has an incredibly detailed gene pool database, paired with medical records and medical histories.  In 1998, amid public outcry, Iceland’s government decided to sell that gene database to a company known as Decode Genetics.  As a result, Iceland has been involved in numerous Endometriosis research studies over the past few decades:

2001: a study ruling out at the GALT gene was related to Endometriosis development

2002: a team found that women were five times more likely to develop Endometriosis if their sister had it, and 50% more likely if their cousin had it.  With this data, the team planned on looking into DNA tests to help identify at-risk women, develop non-invasive diagnostic tests, and to try to discovery new treatments.

2005: a team studied the numbers of p53 (aka tumor protein; a gene study) in Endometriosis among American and Icelandic women.

2010: a study looked at the detailed medical histories of Icelandic women from 1981 to 2000 across the nation and discussed the annual incidence rate of Endometriosis.

2012: a Congress was held in Iceland involving many Nordic countries to discuss Endometriosis and support.

In late May, I emailed nearly a dozen facilities in Iceland to find out more about how they deal with Endometriosis and heard back from one : Dr. Reynir Tómas Geirsson, the Professor Emeritus of the University Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Women´s Clinic of Landspitali University Hospital/University of Iceland in Reykjavik, Iceland.  If you live in Iceland and have additional questions, Dr. Geirsson has shared his email address, and would like me to share it with you.  You may email him at reynirg@landspitali.is.  He was gracious enough to answer my questions:

* Do have you many Endo patients that treat at your facility?   Yes, about 100 per year have operations (the population of Iceland is 330.000) and probably 2-300 outpatient consultations which does apply to those treated in the hospital here who are those who are symptomatic and with more severe disease. There are women who have operations in 3 other facilities, but they are fewer. Women will also attend private gynecologist practices, but I do not have figures on those. Many patients will also be seen privately. This includes the one ART-IVF facility which we have here in this country.

* What is the standard way(s) of treatment?  I know here in the United States, excision surgery is considered the golden standard, followed by hormonal treatments (birth control pills, GnRH agonist, etc.).   It is the same as in the USA.

* Many women in the states go 8-10 years without a diagnosis; is it similar in Iceland?  I know our healthcare varies greatly (socialized versus private), and I’m curious if Iceland’s healthcare system providers for a faster diagnostic rate. No, we have looked and it was 7-8 years probably at the same time as the US assessment was made (10-20 years ago), however, I would like to think that awareness efforts in recent 10 years from us at this hospital and through the Icelandic Endometriosis Society formed in 2006 (www.endo.is) we have gone some way towards reducing this delay. The delay is now probably largely within general practice, but it would be less among gynecologists, either hospital-based or in private practice.

* Which theory do you believe to be the cause of Endometriosis?  Retrograde menstruation (Sampson theory) is an essential pre-requisite, but there is no doubt a genetic susceptibility of varying penetrance (this is the case also with many other common diseases/syndromes) which is probably modifiable by environmental factors (food, obesity, smoking and alcohol, use of hormones, early vs. late childbearing, use of the contraceptive pill or intrauterine contraception are potential factors). There is a possibility that some cases are endometriosis may arise in some cases from aberrant migration/activation of stem cells). Ovarian and other pelvic endometriosis also behave somewhat differently with regard to presentation/timing in the woman´s life-course.

* Are there any Endometriosis excision specialists in Iceland? Yes, one or perhaps two now (one is robot-surgeon).

* Do you have any words of advice for any Icelandic women who think they may suffer from Endometriosis?  I’d also like to point any women to your facility, if I may. Yes, and I have expressed this often publicly. It is to go to a specialist who knows specifically about endometriosis and only to be operated upon where there is someone who has sub-specialist knowledge on the disease. In practice this means to come to the university hospital in Reykjavik for anything more than a diagnostic laparoscopy. Please note, however, that we like to channel information through our own patient organization, see www.endo.is.

* Is there anything myself or our readers can do to help you, the Medical Community, with the fight against Endometriosis? I am not sure that so much is presently needed. Icelandic women are quite computer-literate and will be able to google your site for general information.

I would like to thank Dr. Geirsson for taking time out of his busy schedule to lend a helping hand to our little blog.  I’ve learned so much reading about Iceland and have a friend who has had the pleasure of traveling there a few times.  It looks to be such a beautiful country steeped in culture and history.

It appears that Iceland is pretty much on par with the US when it comes to treatment and awareness, which is fantastic!  And I’m glad that the gene pool database may be used to help further research efforts with our illness.  If you live in Iceland and would like to share your thoughts on treatment or your favorite specialist, please feel free to leave a comment below!  We’d love to hear from you!

Resources:

American Journal of Epidemiology – (Article, July 2010) Pelvic Endometriosis Diagnosed in an Entire Nation Over 20 Years

Bioinformatics.comPrimary Information of p53 Gene

Decode GeneticsGenetic Link to Endometriosis – Unique Icelandic Study Provides Further Proof

Endometriosis Association of Iceland

Endometriosise.no – Convention in Iceland September 15th

Fertility & Sterility – (Article, Nov. 2001) Endometriosis is Not Associated with or Linked to the GALT Gene

Fertility & Sterility – (Article, Nov. 2005) Quantitative DNA Perturbations of p53 in Endometriosis: Analysis of American and Icelandic Cases

Human Reproduction – (Article, 2002) Genetic Factors Contribute to the Risk of Developing Endometriosis

Iceland.is

InternationsHealthcare, Education and Safety in Iceland

Lonely Planet

Michael Specter – (Blog, Jan. 1999) Decoding Iceland

The New York Times – (Article, Feb. 1999) A Country Unveils Its Gene Pool and Debate Flares

The Reykjavik GrapevineEndometriosis

The Reykjavik GrapevineIceland’s Healthcare System: How Does It Work?

~ Again, I am a layman.  I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge.  Please take what I say with a grain of salt.  If curious, do your own research 😉 Validate my writings.  Or challenge them.  And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always.  Yours ~ Lisa

Afghanistan and Health Care for Women

*Note: this entry started out as a piece highlighting Endometriosis care and support in Afghanistan.  It has since morphed into health care, in general, for women in Afghanistan.  And my heart breaks.  This is not a political piece about religion, tradition, the war, or it’s casualties.  I’ve known my fair share of military men and women who were shipped off to Afghanistan; some who didn’t make it back alive…but I won’t let their experiences or deaths color my opinion of this entry.*

I have a few readers from Afghanistan, and today want to focus on the treatment and support available to Afghan women in their home country (hopefully focusing on Endometriosis facts and stats).  As you likely know, the country of Afghanistan is a war-torn one, scarred by decades of combat.

Afghanistan is located in Southern Asia, bordered by China, Pakistan and Iran (to name a few).  It’s slightly smaller than the state of Texas with 31,000,000 people and the capital of Kabul is home to 4.6 million  of those people!  According to the CIA, the living standards of the Afghanistan people are among the lowest in the world.  It may be due, in part, to the economic and infrastructure instability caused by war and terrorist repression.  A staggering 36% of the population lives beneath the poverty line.

During the rule of the Taliban (which fell in 2001), girls and women were not allowed to pursue an education, work outside of their homes, or seek health care.  Women were also forbidden from going into public without a male family member escorting them; a task which, for some, was impossible due to the casualties of war. Hospitals were segregated by sex; the only hospital in Kabul where women were permitted to work  housed just 35 beds.  Additionally, male healthcare workers were not permitted to “[lift] women’s burqas, touching women except through their clothing, or looking at women’s bodies.”  Since women were no longer able to be educated, that meant no more females learning healthcare practices.  This educational embargo has impacted, and will continue to impact, the future of Afghanistan’s healthcare system for years to come.  America’s war in Afghanistan was officially ended in 2014; however, troops still remain to assist in the protection and rebuilding of the country.  Although the fighting is still ongoing in many areas, the people (and women) of Afghanistan are slowly rebuilding their educational and professional presence, as well as their lives.

In 2002, it was estimated that there was 1 doctor per every 50,000 Afghan people…and Afghanistan has been labeled the worst country for healthcare for women.  It’s estimated that 500,000 Afghan women die each year during childbirth, and it is the leading cause of death of childbearing-aged women in Afghanistan. Why?  A lack of available medical resources, understanding, staff, and education.That being said; however, I cannot purely blame the Taliban for the lack of healthcare available to the women of Afghanistan.  In 2007, six years after the fall of the Taliban,  a man in Southwestern Afghanistan told a reporter that he refused to bring his wife to a male doctor, even if she was dying, purely because it went against his traditions. And how many female doctors worked in the province where he and his wife lived?  Zero…

With many poor health services, the average lifespan of an Afghan woman is only 52 years.  Fifty-two.  Courtney Pendray summed it up perfectly in her paper about Afghanistan healthcare, “[a]s women’s health is essential to the health and productivity of future generations of our country, it is essential that we address this issue immediately.”

There are some theories out there that the women of third world countries, especially South Vietnam and Afghanistan, have a lower occurrence of Endometriosis.  This may be, in part, because of the lack of resources to receive a formal diagnosis. An article featured in the Manchester Evening News stated that many women in Asian countries are afraid to seek help due to cultural reasons; that the birth control treatments may lead people to assume these women are sexually active or how internal examinations may jeopardize their proof of virginity.  Not to mention the cultural stigmas and traditional beliefs that we’ve read about already today.

Organizations, such as the Abbott Fund, the Afghan Institute of Learning, the Bayat Foundation, the Fistula Foundation,  Health Policy Project, USAID, and Women for Women International are working to improve health care available to women and children in Afghanistan.  A study published in 2014 noted that no amount of funding provided will succeed to improve the lives of women unless there was a full understanding of the cultural and social contexts of a given culture.  This will include the stigmas, traditions, and belief systems of the people and professionals in Afghanistan.  It also noted that the health care providers face high workloads and are at risk of facing humiliation, blame, and loss of employment; threats which may subdue their motivation to provide satisfactory health care. Even with the progress already made with healthcare in Afghanistan, many women are still afraid to seek treatment.

However, there is hope.  A 2016 article published in The Hill states that now 65% of Afghans have access to basic healthcare (compared to 8% during the Taliban’s rule), 40% of school children are now female, and of the 75,000 people now attending universities, 35% are women!  Education of the generations will hopefully help the people obtain more readily available and better health care.

What started as a research project to find facts and treatments for Endo and Afghan women has turned into something far darker.  Although Endometriosis is a very painful and incurable condition, I am humbled by the plight of these women.  My health issues are nothing compared to theirs.

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by Steve McCurry, 1984

You may also remember seeing the image of The Afghan Girl featured on the cover of National Geographic Magazine in 1985.  The photographer located her 17 years later and shares her story.  I may have painted a bleak image of Afghanistan for women…but I do want you to know that some women embrace the culture and their lives there.  Please read her story here.

Resources:

Abbott Fund

Afghan Institute of Learning

Bayat Foundation

Central Intelligence AgencyThe World Factbook : Afghanistan

Fistula Foundation

Global Post – (2012; Article) Afghan Women Largely Lack Healthcare, Education

Health Policy Project

IRIN – (2009; Article) Little Health Care for Women in Paktika Province

JBPub.com – (download Word document) paper by Courtney Pendray of George Washington University; Women’s Health in Afghanistan

Living with EndometriosisMyths about Endometriosis

Management Sciences for Health – (2015, Article) Good Governance Improves Women’s Health in Afghanistan : One Village’s Story

Manchester Evening News – (2010; Article) Asian Women Less Likely to Seek Treatment for Endometriosis

National Geographic – (2002; Article) A Life Revealed

NIH Record – (2003; Article) NIH Hosts Women Instructors from Afghanistan

Obstetrics & Gynaecology – (2014; Article) Understanding Afghan Healthcare Providers : a Qualitative Study of the Culture of Care in a Kabul Maternity Hospital

PBS – (2002; Article) Afghanistan’s Health Crisis

Reason.com

Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices – excerpt (2006) regarding a lack of Endometriosis in Afghanistan and South Vietnamese women

The Hill – (2016; Article) Afghan Women Need the Support of US Forces Now More Than Ever

The Telegraph

UNICEF – (2003; Article) Afghanistan is Among Worst Places on Globe for Women’s Health, say UNICEF and CDC

United States Institute of PeaceThe Current Situation in Afghanistan

USAID – Afghanistan : Health

Washington College of Law; American UniversityThe Health Care Crisis Facing Women Under Taliban Rule in Afghanistan

Women for Women International

World Health OrganizationHumanitarian Health Action Afghanistan

~ Again, I am a layman.  I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge.  Please take what I say with a grain of salt.  If curious, do your own research 😉 Validate my writings.  Or challenge them.  And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always.  Yours ~ Lisa