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Italian Pathologist visits Boat Clinics


Dr.Livia Bellina, a Pathologist from Italy, visited the Boat Clinic units of Kamrup, Dibrugarh and Dhubri district in September 2015.  From Palermo in South Italy, Dr Bellina has been working for Italy’s National Health System since 1987.  She founded the Mobile Diagnosis, a not for profit association aimed at sharing knowledge and providing diagnostic support to health workers worldwide, by using mobile phone technology. Her constant endevour has been to see and solve local problems with appropriate, frugal, solutions for bridging the technological and educational gap.

Since 2009 she has been travelling and sharing her method in several rural underserved and poor villages of developing countries in Uganda, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Madagascar, Democratic Republic of Congo and Thailand bordering Myanmar. In 2010 she visited Bangladesh, when she was invited by Professor Muhammad Yunus, the founder of the Nobel Peace Prize Winning Grameen Bank where she showed the feasibility of the MD Method for a low cost tele-transmission of images from rural to the central head quarter at Dhaka. In 2013 and 2014 during her time in Thailand, the Oxford-Mahidol University invited her to teach the staff at  Shoklo Malaria Research Unit Staff working in the Karen refugee camps on Burma-Thai  border.

Livia-Bellina_2On way to a health camp at Kamrup district

During her stay at Guwahati she delivered a lecture and made a presentation at the National Health Mission (NHM), Assam and at the Department of Pathology, Guwahati Medical College where there was keen observation by the students on her methods along with an interactive session. She conducted trainings and demonstrations on her concept of mobile diagnosis on-board the vessels in the Boat Clinic laboratories.  Techniques such as preparing and focusing on slides using the microscope, examination of slides and capturing of the exact image through a smart phone camera for diagnosis were demonstrated. Visiting, teaching and interacting with the  teams and beneficiaries at health camps in Dibrugarh, Kamrup and Dhubri districts she observed how the dedicated health teams took health and healing to the many inhabitants, poor and marginalized living in the remote Brahmaputra river islands, carrying medicines and camp essentials  for miles into interior villages beating hostile weather conditions. She was amazed at the perfect synchronization and harmony of the teams and their efficient operation with not a minute wasted. Apprehensive about the high rate of skin infection like scabies and worm infestation due to contaminated water she provided a few precaution tips. At all the field visits she interacted with the patients and villagers attended the healthy camps. She also provided tips to Medical Officers on medication and preventive health, minutely observing each and every component of the health camp activities. Interacting with Medical Officers, ANMs, Pharmacist and laboratory technician she appreciated the activities they performed.  After observing the camps she said that regularly exposed to mud, soil and contaminated water, parasites may infect not only the villagers but also the Boat Clinic team members causing worm infestation, scabies, other skin diseases and so necessary precautions needed to be taken. Pregnant women may be more at risk. She stressed on ensuring purity of  water and so chlorination of drinking water was essential along with encouraging people to buy modern water filters as almost all the drinking water sources in the river island villages are contaminated. She was impressed with the work of the Boat Clinics.

She is an experienced teacher with  excellent networking and communication skills. Over the years  she has developed good competence in establishing motivated teams and working groups. She has  established a good human relation with patients, as well as students, teams and colleagues, as documented by several letters from her students in Bangladesh and elsewhere. Her constant endevour has been to  see and solve local problems with appropriate, frugal , solutions for bridging the technological and educational gap. In  2011the World Health Orgaization published her work “ Mobilephone image transmission for diagnosis. The same year she was selected as one of the top 30 finalists of the Ashoka Challenge Global health Innovators 2011

After visiting a remote island village on the Brahmaputra at Dibrugarh ,charged by the beauty of nature and the simplicity of the villagers as she accompanied the Boat Clinic team for a health camp she  penned down the following lines..

“I came back from heaven, from paradise. I am touched by all I have seen. I do not know how to express my feelings. I touched Paradise …thousands emotions that I breathed…”.

“I have had a full life and now want to give myself to others. I believe everyone can make a difference to make life better- a little, bit by all” says this woman with a big heart.

She is now in her Mission Journey to India, from here she will travel onwards to Nepal to share her methodology and to do a training to local work force.Her goal remain the same:  applying the Mobile Diagnosis Method   together with social entrepreneurship education, to improve rural development and community life.

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