Friday, January 27, 2012

Where I share my medical expertise

Yesterday, I taught Pape's class from the IPDSR (Institut de Formation et de Recherche pour le Developpement et Sante de Reproduction) a lesson on the American health care system.  These students come from Chad, Ivory Coast, Gabon & Burkina Faso.  None of them are Senegalese.  Pape teaches them medical English, which means technical terminology but also conversation and general language skills.  I started by asking what they already knew, and found that some knew more about Obama's health care plans than many Americans.  When I asked what 'health' means, trying to define terms, one rattled off the World Health Organization's definition verbatim, and everybody cracked up.  It was part of their reading for yesterday, which I didn't know.  After I got into some comparative statistics and global healthy system rankings, they were, of course, shocked by the costs of the American health care system.  When I reported the health insurance cost for Jada, Lisa and I, including the amounts our schools pay, they quickly took out the calculators on their phones to translate it into CFA's (the local currency).  They were dumbfounded.  And when we discussed the infant mortality rate in the US (6.7 per 1000- highest in the developed world) one asked why we spent so much money on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I could only agree with him.  It was one of many moments when the situation of people here makes it very difficult to justify the privilege of our lives there.

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