Bienvenidos a la República Argentina

7 11 2011

Besides my love for Blue Devils basketball, the third year was an impetus for my decision to attend Duke for medical school. I loved the idea of a year to explore different avenues of medicine and research. I also loved the idea of getting to really participate in global health for a significant period of time. Thus, my fiancée and I decided to do what was necessary to go abroad for my third year. Two and a half years after accepting Duke’s offer of admission, my wife and I sit in downtown Rosario, Argentina. A project had appeared in the city via connections of Dr. Martinez-Bianchi, a Duke Family Medicine physician originally from Rosario.

Rosario is the third largest city in Argentina, sitting on the bank of the Rio Parana. It is a study in dichotomies, from the shanty towns on the outskirts of town to the million dollar condos lining the river.  There are also creeping signs of burgeoning chronic diseases in the future, witnessed by the growing problem of obesity and diabetes. The research institute obtained a beautiful apartment in the center of the city for us. It has surpassed our highest expectations. The city feels relatively safe and clean and we are definitely excited to explore more over the coming months.

View from apartment patio

For the next six months, I have the privilege of working with CREP, Centro Rosarino de Estudios Perinatales. The main project I will work on is a subset analysis of data collected in a larger multicenter project by Yale University. The overall project is designed to standardize and implement a new international tool for identifying and providing interventions for early childhood development delays, which often carry a number of morbidities with them. The model is being standardized in Turkey, South Africa, India, and Argentina. As part of this large-scale study, a lot of data will be generated and we have generously received permission to analyze and publish data unrelated to the overall study but of importance to the local community.

Argentina is a land of meat-lovers and as such, iron-deficiency anemia is normally not a large problem. In the youngest age range (below the age of 4), however, the problem continues to exist. This is true despite public health measures to enact laws to force all formulas to have iron supplementation and “prophylactic” iron given to all children at approximately 4 months of age.  These measures, however, are based on outdated data of prevalence. The main focus of my project will be to get a better measure of the prevalence of anemia in this demographic and confirming it is of iron-deficiency origin. We will then analyze risk factors present, such as maternal education, SES, or breastfeeding patterns to look to risk stratify the population. Another question we hope to look at is if those treated with iron in the past are still presenting with anemia. If so, why? Did they take the medication? If not, why? The researchers here feel strongly that answers to these questions could direct the public health efforts of the city. I am excited to be a part of the research and am thankful to DGHI for making it a possibility.

One of the appealing aspects of coming here to Rosario was that CREP had projects that my wife, a nurse, could participate in. She will help with the blood sample collection along with working on a Cochrane review of Chagas Disease Prognosis. We were very thankful that the Institute would incorporate both of us during our time down here.

Data collection is supposed to begin in about a week. Updates to come.




One response

7 11 2011
Sarah Martin

Enjoy getting settled into Rosario! I look forward to more posts!

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