Three Cazenovia School District parents are making a difference in South Sudan this week.
Dave Reed, David Chanatry and Bruce Strong flew to Africa last week to bring new medical training and technology to the region and report on the situation there.
"My prime mission is a follow-up to a trip I made in December, and will be focusing on the hand delivery and then in the training of local staff in the use of two laptop size battery powered ultrasound machines," said Reed, who is a medical director in the village of Duk Payel.
The machines were donated by Sonosite, and are valued at about $20,000. The most important role of the machines will be the early detection of problems in late pregnancy; South Sudan has the highest maternal death rate in the world.
"Since we have no surgical capability at our clinic, to be able to detect an abnormal position of the baby in the week prior to delivery can be helpful in evacuating the mother to a place where surgical intervention is possible if needed," Reed said.
Chanatry is a professor of journalism at Utica College, and Bruce Strong is at the Newhouse school at Syracuse University. Both will be writing about the situation in South Sudan.
The second ultrasound machine will be taken to Jill Seaman, a world expert in the second most common parasitic killer in the world, leishmaniasis, and the recipient of a John D. MacArthur genius award in September.
Seaman has a clinic in Old Fangak, and has been helpful to Reed in his work.
"Jill is a personal mentor for me, and a mentor for the clinic in how to do the best practices with few resources in remote settings," Reed said. "Our mutual goals are in training and empowering local African staff to provide the best possible medical care to an area where there is no functional health care infrastructure as of yet, where families carry their child or parent as much as 12 hours through the bush for any hope of care."
Much has been achieved at the Duk Lost Boys Clinic.
Doctors have facilitated the large-scale distribution of treated malaria nets, preventing a disease that can kill two of five children before their fifth birthday. They have brought the capability to immunize children for the most common diseases that kill aggressively in Africa. They have also set up a blood bank and HIV and tuberculosis testing.
The three fathers scheduled their 9-day trip to return in time for this weekend's high school musical, "Annie Get Your Gun." Chanatry's daughter, Hannah, has a significant role in the show.