Medical students visit community health centers in Byblos
The visit was part of LAU’s social medicine curriculum, which focuses on the social, economic and political forces affecting the occurrence and course of diseases.
LAU students, with faculty members Dr. Mona Haidar (far left), Dr. Maya Khairallah (far right), and Byblos-campus registered nurse Maria El Ghoul (2nd from right) outside the Red Cross center in Byblos.
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Twenty-five LAU medical students, along with School of Medicine faculty members and LAU staff, got to know their local community better when they visited the Ministry of Public Health’s Byblos District Health Center, the Lebanese Red Cross, the Ministry of Social Affairs’ Center and local historical sites, in Byblos on March 18.
The visit was organized by SOM faculty member Dr. Mona Haidar as part of the school’s social medicine curriculum — which emphasizes that social, economic and political forces influence the occurrence and course of most diseases.
“We hope this visit will allow the students to understand what constitutes a community and what factors, elements and stakeholders shape community heath,” says Haidar. She adds that the visit also established contact between the LAU medical school and key people in the field in Byblos.
At the Ministry of Public Health’s Byblos District Health Center, director Dr. Shawki El Helou emphasized the importance of a multisectoral approach to health. He informed students about the Lebanese health system, focusing on the Ministry of Public Health with its various components and roles, such as providing surveillance for infectious diseases, offering primary health care services, and raising health awareness.
Student Wael Salameh says the information was “very insightful in terms of medical obstacles that exist in Lebanese society.”
“It’s always important to keep in perspective how much doctors have more of a [socially] responsible role toward people, not just a medical role, building on the fact that people view doctors as a source of trust and affiliation with them,” Salameh says.
At the Red Cross center, students enjoyed learning about how each of its divisions work. Some of the students have already volunteered at the Red Cross.
Director Suzanne Oueiss, as well as other staff, answered questions about the functions of the blood bank, emergency phone service, and other services provided by the center. Many of the students requested applications to volunteer.
Dima Jehe, a medical student who studied in Washington, D.C. before coming to LAU, says: “I think [the Red Cross] is a good liaison for us because it’s very close to our medical school and is very easy to work with.” She adds: “They have a volunteer section and a first-aid section — we can volunteer in both.”
The students also met with director Dolly Shami of the Ministry of Social Affairs for the area, which helps families deal with poverty and abuse, in addition to teaching women basic reading, computer and labor skills.
The community visit ended with a tour of the ancient ruins of Byblos with tour guide Yazid Mahfouz explaining various artifacts at the museum, and telling stories of ancient and modern Byblos.
Other stories in: Gilbert and Rose-Marie Chagoury School of Medicine.
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