By Eric Reikowski, media relations assistant
With millions around the world struggling to make ends meet, a new student organization has emerged on Oakland University’s campus to help broaden access to vital health care services. The group, called “Medical Brigades,” is a subchapter of Global Brigades, the world’s largest global health and sustainable development organization.
“As students, we are responsible for gathering all necessary medications and supplies we will need for our brigade,” said Laura Collier, OU senior and founder of Medical Brigades.
"We are also responsible for recruiting medical professionals. Functioning like a mobile medical unit, we set up small clinics to diagnose and treat patients at no cost.”
Under the supervision of licensed professionals, group members assist with many aspects of the medical profession, from in-take to triage, along with medical consultations and filling prescriptions.
This winter, a brigade of 34 Oakland students, joined by a pair of physicians and dentists, traveled to rural Honduras and provided free health care to about 600 people – including more than 50 gynecology exams – in the mountain top community of Hoya Grande. The group also helped build the infrastructure necessary to bring running water to the community of El Canton and composed a skit to teach children about the importance of good hygiene.
Dr. Florence Dallo, an assistant professor in Oakland’s School of Health Sciences, serves as the group’s faculty advisor and believes these efforts pave the way for lifelong growth.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for our students to engage in a fulfilling, perspective-expanding experience,” said Dr. Dallo. “I know the project has enhanced, altered and shaped their way of thinking, which will prove useful in all their future endeavors.”
Collier’s awareness of global of health issues developed during childhood when she spent eight months in China and witnessed the effects of widespread poverty.
“I carried this humbling experience with me and utilized it as a spark of empowerment to initiate my university’s first international community service project,” she explained. “A billion people around the world are suffering in destitute poverty with little or no access to health care.”
The impact of Medical Brigades has inspired the launch of more Global Brigades-based chapters at Oakland. The Architecture Brigades chapter works with rural communities in Honduras to provide educational and health infrastructures through hands-on projects. Public Health Brigades is dedicated preventing common illnesses through in-home infrastructure development, community leader training and health education.
Collier added that other Global Brigades in areas such as water and microfinance are possible in the future.
to view a YouTube clip of the group’s trip to Honduras.