Tiyatien Health/Liberia: A pre-departure introduction

A longer introduction to come, but today, April 1, I leave for Liberia to work with the organization “Tiyatien Health.” (http://www.tiyatienhealth.com) “Tiyatien” means “justice in health” in the Kwa-dialect spoken among some people in Liberia. Liberia has a rich, complex, and often turbulent history. Many simply associate Charles Taylor and child soldiers with Liberia when they hear its name. I will write more about those events along the way and hope to relay a fuller picture of daily life, the problems of the past, and Liberians’ hopes for the future.

Briefly, I will be working on a few projects for the organizations including using a tool to evaluate community health worker attitudes and ideas to improve patient care and the organization, surveying patients who are loss-to-follow-up and assessing side effects of medications they may be taking for depression, and working on issues related to distinguishing between demoralization and depression as well as clarifying some wording and data issues with a tool already in use for depression screening. I am very excited to be part of the TH team on this trip, and I am traveling with the organization’s co-founder – Raj Panjabi and 2 other medical students, Ana Weil and Roona Ray.

A few statistics until I have time to write more:

-There are estimated to be 122 doctors for 3.5 million people (http://www.mg.co.za/article/2009-01-14-liberia-battles-crippling-shortage-in-health-workers) in Liberia.

-In a multi-stage random cluster survey around Liberia (http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/300/6/676), researchers found 40% of Liberians surveyed met the criteria for major depressive disorder and 44% met the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Stay tuned for more stories and statistics, history, and a travel adventure or ten.

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