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Review for Child Family Health International, San Francisco, CA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

I recently went to La Paz, Bolivia with Child Family Health International for their Pediatric and Adolescent Program. The program allowed me to learn about the healthcare system in a developing country. Unfortunately, during my month stay there, the physicians were having their first strike ever in Bolivian history. The physicians were striking against the government for the lack of resources in the hospitals and the recent increase in daily work hours without an increase in pay. The media called the physicians “lazy” and the community members followed the media. Even with protests from the community, the physicians continued to stand up for their beliefs and marched everyday. The police would line the streets in front of hospitals and clinics to control the demonstrations and crowds. I soon learned that striking was common throughout the entire work force of Bolivia. From public transportation to sex workers, different groups protested everyday.

While clinical settings were limited due to the physician strike, I was able to rotate through 3 different hospitals with the 4 other students from the United States. We as students were welcomed by the physicians and residents at each facility. One was the main public pediatric hospital of La Paz, one a brand new private hospital, and the other a small public hospital in a poor neighboring city. Both public hospitals lacked many resources and the poorer hospital was overcrowded. This program allowed me to learn how physicians dealt with health without resources and about Bolivia’s health insurance and coverage.

The other students and I were able to enhance our Spanish not only through the clinical setting, but through our daily Spanish classes. Living with a host family also helped my conversational skills. The host family was extremely welcoming and kind, and the son spoke fluent English. On the weekends, we were able to explore the city and even travel throughout the country. Going to a different country to experience health care first hand and living with a local family is a unique opportunity that I am extremely fortunate to have experienced!

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Role:  Volunteer