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Luis Chiva de Agustín, Director of the department of Gynecology and Obstetrics of the Clínica Universidad de Navarra and professor of the School of Medicine.

The bait of solidarity medicine

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity, the author reflects on the fortune of those who can count on a quality health attendance and can also help others.

Mon, 04 Sep 2017 17:07:00 +0000 Published in Navarra Newspaper

A few weeks ago I returned from the Democratic Republic of Congo after collaborating in a solidarity project at the Monkole Hospital. A group of gynecologists from the Clinic and students from School of Medicine at the University of Navarra had the opportunity to participate in a cervical cancer screening program in the Mont-Ngafula neighborhood on the outskirts of Kinshasa. I knew that this was the most prevalent oncological disease among Congolese women, who lack access to effective treatment, making the diagnosis inevitably a death sentence. Our task was to implement an accessible and sustainable screening system that would improve mortality from this tumor in the near future.

The project was ambitious and it paid off, but the most relevant part of our journey was recognizing that the real impact was on ourselves. We planted a seed that we hope will grow into a leafy tree. But while this is happening, all of us who traveled to Congo underwent, to a greater or lesser extent, a process of inner transformation that could be summed up in one word: gratitude.

We recently celebrated the International Day of Solidarity and I would like to point out that this is the real hook of solidarity medicine. Gratitude, which is the result of being able to give for free what we have received for free. Of feeling deeply useful. But above all it is the consequence of recognizing that we are very fortunate for all that we have or simply for the privilege of leaving a mark after carrying out a small action that in our country would be banal, routine and unnoticed.

It is obvious that the effect of our knowledge and resources is multiplied in these countries. As the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano said: "Many small people in small places, doing small things, can change the world".

This feeling of serving and being useful is both deeply gratifying and liberating. It is said that people who express their gratitude in this way, live in high levels of positive emotions, satisfaction with life, vitality and optimism. Exercising the feeling of gratitude dissolves fear, anguish and feelings of anger. financial aid to control toxic and unnecessary mental states. This is the true drug of supportive medicine.

It is well known that the quality of healthcare attendance in our country is one of the most attractive realities that Spaniards can enjoy. At the same time, our society has a tremendous vocation for solidarity that is manifested in our being one of the leading countries in donations and transplants. Every year health professionals join multiple solidarity projects that individually or within specific organizations try to share their knowledge and resources in the most disadvantaged regions of the planet.

In my field, and in that of many other health professionals, solidarity medicine arises as a desire to share what we have; it is about putting our knowledge on internship in unusual places and different circumstances that we are not used to in our daily lives. A road, in the end, a two-way street: not only do you make this world a little better place, but in the end you become a better doctor and, perhaps, a better person.

I am already organizing my next trip to Kinshasa, will you join me?