Access to doctors and medicine is something that people in the western world often take for granted. A visit to the slums as part of a medical team for Handle With Care International really puts things in perspective.
The medical team are part of a local clinic called Rumah Sehat Madani, which works on the ground with Handle With Care International to provide mobile medical clinics, visiting urban slum areas with doctors, nurses and pharmacists to minister to those for whom medical aid is often out of reach. Residents are given a full medical check-up and appropriate medical treatments - ranging from vitamin supplements to asthma medications and antibiotics.
As word of the visit gets around, residents from the other side of the river arrive to queue for their chance to weigh their babies and get a diagnosis for aches and pains. In a world where people die from undiagnosed, potentially curable illnesses due to lack of medical access, no one would miss this opportunity.
After seeing the nurse and the doctor, armed with script in hand, residents receive their allocated medicines, as well as a healthy meal - an orange, green beans and five quail eggs per person, and a lesson in nutrition. The many who have just been told they are chronically malnourished listen carefully, while the children devour their oranges and the women feed their babies the eggs.
Urban poverty is often transient and, with a growing migrant population placing pressure on land resources, many slums such as this one are being bulldozed to make way for upmarket development projects. Residents in such areas are often forced to move with little notice to unfamiliar areas without the support of their established communities.
Handle With Care International sponsors medical clinics, such as this one, to provide medical services free of charge to these people, creating medical records that can be accessed at other clinics and mobile services throughout the city and providing some semblance of continuity of care when residents are forced to move on.
Donations to support this service can be made here. For information on assisting us with our work, either fundraising or on one of our Aid Trips where you can see our medical teamâs work first hand, contact email@example.com.
A modified version of this article appeared on The Jakarta Globe