It is only apparent when we look deeper into the extent of medical help that is provided to the students with financial problems, how healthcare assistance is a privilege and not a service. Rani Viroja observed this unfortunate situation for the students when she saw patients having their teeth pulled without a local anaesthetic and yet, expressing their gratitude after the procedure.
Viroja, who worked in a medical clinic in rural Nicaragua, the doctors didn’t have enough medication to cover the patients they treated every day, saw patients with rotten, brown teeth undergoing tooth extraction without any anaesthesia. She was a pre-dental student studying in the Bouvé College of Health Sciences at the Northeastern University.
This eye-opening incident is more common than we think. Most of the students are unable to afford or avail such medical facilities. Research has shown that this is mostly because these students are already burdened with the cost of their education and their back-breaking student loans, which only some of these young adults are able to pay back.
To help these students, many universities from different states have come forward in the form of small organisations which fund their basic medical facilities and ensure proper treatment. Similarly, the Northeastern University Global Medical Brigade is currently focused on providing healthcare to rural communities in Panama, Nicaragua, and Honduras, where medical services are scarce.
The students who join the brigade, do a seven-day stint in either a medical or dental unit. They measure vital signs and digitally record patient history in the clinic’s triage station and assist in the pharmacy under the direction of licensed pharmacists. These records are maintained for future medical emergencies and treatments.
To ensure that students don’t suffer from any dental discomfort, they conduct sessions where the doctors train the students and kids on how to brush their teeth properly using teddy bears and toys. This Brigade, like many other organisations, helps collect donations to fund the patients’ trips and surgeries.
“The goal is to create a sustainable community,” Viroja said. “We’re really there to help them help themselves, because our hope is, that eventually, they won’t need us to come back.”
School health services as a part of the overall school healthcare program provided health and medical services to students. These services tended to be one of three types: basic, expanded, or comprehensive. Basic healthcare services include such things as immunizations, hearing and vision screenings, scoliosis screening, sports physicals, health counselling, and nutritional screenings. Even though it should be a compulsory part of all schools and colleges, healthcare facilities are still falling short of the standards. We hope that it gets better with the help of all these small student body organisations.