Throughout the past semester I have completed clinical rotations in obstetrics/maternity and pediatrics. Both are medical areas which South Africa needs help with. Much of the issue in South Africa is the lack of knowledge of proper health care as well as the access to it.
My obstetrics/maternity clinical was at The Hospital of Central Connecticut. The majority of the mothers that I cared for were lucky enough to have prenatal care which is extremely important for a healthy pregnancy and fetus. The pregnant woman’s diet is important not only while she is pregnant, but also before she becomes pregnant. One dietary need while a woman is trying to become pregnant is folic acid. It has been found that folic acid is helpful in preventing neural tube defects in the fetus. Folic acid can be found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, broccoli, etc. It can also be found in citrus fruits, such as oranges, and beans and peas.
One of the goals of our vegetable garden service projects is to provide proper nutrients to the people of South Africa. By implementing gardens in the Vaatjie school and the Varkplaas community we hope to provide enough nutrients to support their health.
I was assigned to the Vaatjie school garden in which we hope to plant spinach and at least one orange tree which should provide folic acid to the children. Starting them out early with proper nutrients can help to prevent future pregnancy complications.
My pediatrics clinical was at The Hospital for Special Care. Many of the children at this hospital are there as a result of birth defects or complicated pregnancies. These children’s cases are very severe and unfortunately many of them don’t make it or have lived there their whole lives. Not all defects and complications can be prevented, but there are many ways to minimize the risks.
Proper nutrition and avoidance of teratogens are just examples. One of the issues Tamarin mentioned to me was that many of the mothers do not realize that smoking and drinking can be harmful to their fetus. The mothers also are unaware of proper developmental stages of infants and children. Many children who are victim to birth defects or complications are developmentally delayed and require more assistance. The patients at my clinical receive occupational and physical therapy to “catch them up” to their appropriate developmental stage.
I would love to be able to bring more health care awareness to these families and to prevent any issues, but we can only do so much with what we have. Much of what I have learned from my clinical experience can be brought with me on our trip, but only so much can be implemented.