Dec 2, 2010

A preliminary word on medical stories

The response to my previous post has been large even so far.  Before I actually share anything, I want to make clear that I am not doing this out of a desire for publicity or to poke Peace Corps in the eye.  It would be great if I never had this opportunity—if medical care here were efficient and effective, or even just okay.  From firsthand stories I have heard about a great deal of incompetence on the part of PCMOs (Peace Corps Medical Officers), the worst of which led to a medical survey on from VSN, the Volunteer Support Network, some months ago.  But recent events have made it crystal clear that whatever the PC administration is doing to address the issue, it is not working.  Already three volunteers that I know of have left or been sent home based on such foolishness, things that very often do not even rise to the level of medical mistakes.  Rather they are secretarial mistakes like failing to make appointments, know policies, or call sick volunteers back.  I feel it is my duty to try and fix this problem, and I am doing so in the only way I know how—by writing about it, by sharing stories.

I have to admit that this project is a little frightening.  Bureaucracies the world over do not like their problems being revealed, and by far the most common reaction is to shoot the messenger.  Peace Corps policy makes it clear that we serve at the pleasure of the Country Director, and their regulations concerning blogs are written loosely enough that most any blogger could probably be sent home on some trumped-up violation.  Mostly they say that bloggers should avoid host country political controversies or making statements that could be interpreted as being culturally insensitive, in that they might damage the Peace Corps' reputation in the host country.  While this series might be construed as embarrassing, particularly in the USA, in my opinion the existence of such glaring incompetence is the far more serious problem.  Volunteers who have been subjected to bad care are not silent about it back home, and their stories to their friends and relatives back home befoul Peace Corps' reputation far worse than some unknown blogger ever could.

In any case, I will not be publishing anyone's name, either volunteer or staff.  My goal is to give readers a flavor of what the scene has been like here, in the hopes of sparking a discussion about how to fix it.


  1. Wow Ryan, to boldly go where no man has gone before. I am behind you all the way, probably should be in front of you, since I am older. Any support you need, please don't hesitate to call. B

  2. Thanks for the kind words. We'll see how it goes.

  3. Love this! You're totally channeling blomkvist on this aren't you? Investigative bloggong... i like it...