Volunteers bring M-HEAL solutions to Peru

Each day the students set up a mobile clinic with a doctor from a partner organization, reaching as many 600 community members while in Cusco.

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Leila Syal monitors the heart rate of a visiting child in one of her team's mobile clinics.

Leila Syal, a sophomore in Electrical Engineering, organized an alternative spring break trip with M-HEAL (Michigan Health Engineered for All Lives) to Cusco, Peru. This trip was a part of the group’s Service Abroad and Needs Assessment (SANA) program, and the 15 participating students had the opportunity to do medical volunteer work around the city.

Each day the students set up a mobile clinic with a doctor from a partner organization. They took charge of a variety of stations, including brushing teeth, hand washing, and listening to patients’ hearts. Other tasks varied based on patient needs, including measuring the BMI of patients, taking their blood pressure, conducting eye exams, and handing out donated medications in a pharmacy.

Throughout the week, students’ efforts affected as many as 600 community members. They also provided a variety of donations of medical supplies and personal care items.

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Leila Syal overlooks Cusco, Peru, sporting her Michigan pride.

As part of the SANA program, this trip also served as needs assessment for M-HEAL. Through observation and doctor interviews, the students gathered data to guide future organization planning. This will help them decide resource allocation, including the formation of new teams to solve any global health problems they uncover.

Between their service work, students on the trip were treated to a thrilling culture experience. Participants stayed with host families, and dedicated a day at the end of the week to visit Machu Picchu and hike.

“It was such an incredible experience,” Leila says. “I learned so much from the doctor, my team, and the people of the community. We had time to really engage with the families who visited the clinics.”

M-HEAL (Michigan Health Engineered for All Lives) is a student organization that organizes interdisciplinary work in global health, design, and entrepreneurship. The group engages students from different disciplines through guest lectures, interactive workshops, and volunteer opportunities. The group supports project teams as they develop health care solutions and travel abroad to work with international partners.