Learning about the Environment

While shadowing doctors, I noticed a trend on certain diagnoses. There were many local women who had Urinary Tract Infections, Pelvic inflammatory Infections, and joint pain. I was following a Physician’s Assistant named Alan who explained to me why some of these people had these diseases.

In my Global health classes, I have learned that the environment can shape someone’s health determinant but I didn’t know exactly what diseases could be influenced. In the United States living in a poor area is usually associated with low-living standards. This means that the air could be polluted, people could live in food deserts (no high-quality nutrient-dense grocery stores), and unsafe drinking water. Environmental racism plays a large part in the types of areas people live in.

While in Uganda, I learned that unsanitary toilet conditions can cause some of these infections. UTI’s are caused by Escherichia Coli (E. Coli) which travels from the large intestine to the urethra. The toilets in Kabale tend to be low on the ground where bacteria can splash back and cause bacteria to enter the vagina. Water is hard to get in higher areas so there is not much water to be passed around.

Many of the elderly complained of joint pain. During the outreaches, I noticed that people had to walk very far and for hours in order to reach the clinic. This means that everyone, young or old had to trek across mountains and unpaved road in order to receive medical care. The older members of the community discussed pain in their knees, elbows, and back. Thier joints hurt because they have to walk very far to go anywhere. It’s not like the United States where people can drive their cars or catch the bus to go to a doctor’s appointment.

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