Stories: Healthcare

  • In Tanzania, mothers learn how to teach the facts of life

    DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania — On a warm Saturday in October, a dozen women in the neighborhood of Mbagala Charambe in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, sat together in the open-air waiting area at Samaria Health Centre. On most weekends, women gather here to learn how to talk with their preteen and teenage daughters about puberty, their changing bodies, contraception and...

  • Refugees in Mauritania in lonely fight for mental health care

    MBERA REFUGEE CAMP, Mauritania – As tens of thousands of refugees from Mali remain displaced in this expansive camp, families are growing increasingly concerned by a lack of support for their mental health and well-being. Humanitarian groups working in Mbera refugee camp say a lack of funds and expertise makes providing care for survivors of trauma and violence difficult, especially...

  • The Omnipresence of Dust in Kathmandu

    It's the middle of winter, and the wards of Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in downtown Kathmandu, Nepal, are full of people who can't breathe. On the third-floor pediatrics ward, Basanta K.C. balances his baby daughter, Bursa, in his right arm and deftly threads a narrow plastic tube into her nostrils. As she struggles for air, her...

  • Japan Prefers Robot Bears to Foreign Nurses

    NAGOYA, Japan — If you want a protector for the elderly, what’s better than a robot bear? Robear, “the strong robot with the gentle touch,” is a nursing-care robot — with a cuddly look — touted as strong enough to lift up elderly Japanese and bring them to the bathroom, but also gentle enough to provide...

  • After Quake, Nepal Faces Water and Health Crisis

    KATHMANDU, Nepal—As the sun sets over central part of this city, young Nepali men and women gather at the Tundikhel’s northern edge to collect drinking water for their families. The large park at the center of Kathmandu has served many purposes throughout its history: It was a military parade ground, a horse track, a cattle-grazing ground...

  • What the U.S. Can Learn From Brazil’s Healthcare Mess

    On a recent afternoon in Boa Vista, a lower-middle-class neighborhood of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Noranei Oliveira Miranda waited patiently on a small couch for the local community health workers to arrive. Her aging father, Dirceu, was seated next to her, not as patiently. Trembling and non-verbal, he reared up from the couch and reached in vain for the front door....

  • Foreign Doctors Help Poor Brazilians Get a Leg Up

    Just three months ago, the public clinic near Maria Selma Dos Santos’s home didn’t have a single doctor on staff. Prior to that, she could schedule an appointment weeks in advance, only to show up and discover the doctor hadn’t come in that day. “They didn’t seem to want to...

  • To Get an Abortion in Brazil, I Had to Lie and Say I Was Raped

    Though more than a million abortions are performed in Brazil every year, almost all of them are illegal. Some are performed in illicit clinics by practitioners of varying skills, and some are performed at home by the women themselves, often with drugs obtained over the Internet or on the black market. Brazil’s universal health system means...

  • Inside a War on Natural Birth: C-Sections as Status Symbol and ‘Choice’ as a Myth

    Adelir Carmen Lemos de Goés just wanted a natural birth. Already a 29-year-old mother of two, she had a trained attendant assisting her; she had a healthy pregnancy. Adelir was perfectly willing to give birth in a hospital; she just prefered to avoid surgery. But the hospital, like so many hospitals here in Brazil and elsewhere, thought...

  • Freedom and Flight

    Once, I knew a boy/man who was studying to be a doctor. When the time came for his mandatory posting in the village as a post-graduate student, he was deeply upset. Brilliant and sullen, he completed his degree with gritted teeth and migrated to the US soon after. His journey reeked of the sort of burning determination that fuels...