What about the language problem?
Some conferences have been held in countries where English is not widely spoken or understood. When this occurs, we either hire interpreters locally or if possible bring them with us. For example, in Vietnam, some of the translating was done by a Vietnamese-American psychiatrist who was born in Vietnam and who is a fluent Vietnamese speaker. Sometimes the doctors in the countries we visit can speak English but many of the patients speak a local language or a dialect. Two examples of this are Myanmar and the Philippines where the doctors are excellent English speakers but some patients are not. When this occurs we Doctor to Doctor volunteers speak to the doctors in English but not directly to the patients.
What kinds of psychiatric problems are found in third world countries and how are the patients treated?
The same as in the US! DSM-IV is taught throughout the world and in some countries, we found photocopies of DSM-IV in rural clinics and training programs. The psychiatrists in the countries we visit can usually get long-established drugs like chlorpromazine, haloperidol, diazepam, and amitriptyline. SSRIs, atypical antipsychotics, anticonvulsants other the phenytoin and Phenobarbital are expensive and often available only to upper class patients or those with families abroad who can either send medication or the money to purchase them.
What other kinds of treatments are utilized abroad?
Native healers, herbalists, and shamans are used in many countries and we hear about them during our visits. The psychiatrists we meet consider these treatments to be helpful at times. In addition, we have seen a number of patients treated with acupuncture and/ or with superficial electrical stimulation.
Where does Doctor to Doctor get the money to carry on these activities?
Most of our funding comes directly from the volunteer health professionals. Volunteers pay all of their expenses when they go abroad. This includes air fare, hotel rooms, meals, and incidentals. When Doctor to Doctor hosts conferences, we typically pay for local facilities, meals, as well as travel expenses for the local attendees. Some of these expenses are recouped by charging a conference fee to the volunteers.
What other funding and donations does Doctor To Doctor receive?
We do get some contributions (tax dedictible!) and received a small foundation grant early in our history. Often Doctor to Doctor volunteers often bring along medications they purchase as part of their personal donation to the cause. Volunteers also bring medications that our donated from various sources. In one year, we were able to dispense almost $100,000.00 worth of medications! We are constantly soliciting donations of medications and textbooks. Note: we cannot bring expired medications to foreign countries and we find it's counterproductive to bring textbooks or journals that are more than 5 or 10 years old.