Lives at Stake: Seeing Zika Firsthand
By Katie Pace
When the members of the National Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC, planned their mission trip to the Dominican Republic they hoped to work on a building project and teach Vacation Bible School. But when they were able to take Medical Mission Packs from MAP International, they learned how they could save lives while protecting themselves from Zika at the same time.
According to The New York Times, travelers to the Dominican Republic lead in New York City positive Zika tests. Flying into the Dominican, the team was prepared with the best repellants from Sawyer to prevent the spread of the Zika virus back to the states.
With athletes withdrawing from the Olympics over Zika concerns in Brazil, our team went on this trip with our eyes opened and prepared to protect ourselves and those we serve, personally I didn’t expect the amount of local panic over Zika in Santo Domingo. I had just returned from the mountains of Guatemala and there was little concern over the Zika virus, but the Dominican Republic was very different. With the Zika virus continuing to spread, the impact is personal for many. “We have already lost four babies in our congregation.” Said Pastor Maria Cristina Gregorio, of the Tabernacle Church of Salvation and Praise in the Santo Domingo area. “The virus is everywhere.”
Working with a local Santo Domingo church, our team established a pop-up clinic in a community with limited access to healthcare. We saw 100 families, and more than 500 patients in a single day, treating everything from serious, life-threatening infections to colds. Foundation for Peace Medical Director, Dr. Cici Lugo, said, “It was such a blessing to have medicines from MAP. The quality was so good and we’ve never been able to treat so many people with what they truly needed.”
“I didn’t know that by partnering with MAP our mission trip would have so much more impact,” said Pastor Donna Marsh. “It took the impact of our mission trip to a new level entirely. We were able to really meet a need in the community because of the medicines we brought with us.”
The level of impact that we were able to have was seen in the faces of the local physicians treating patients with medicines they don’t always have access to. A number of young mothers brought their children into the clinic and suspected that their children had Zika, but due to limited testing resources in the Dominican Republic, the best we could do was offer them pain relievers and fever reducers for the symptoms.
To learn more about the potential risk areas in the Unites States, please visit the CDC.