A Contribution to Leishmaniasis Prevention: Taking the Lab closer to the Community, developed by Alejandro Valencia Tobón from Programa de Estudio y Control de Enfermedades Tropicales (Program for the Study and Control of Tropical Diseases) - PECET (www.pecet-colombia.org). It is a proposal that envisions to create a link between science and social work through photography, video and music. It also aims to generate learning-related aesthetic experiences. Because of its geographical position, Colombia is a vulnerable country for diseases such as leishmaniasis, a disease caused by a parasite (Leishmania spp.) that is transmitted by wild animals (like rodents, marsupials and others mammals) to humans through an insect vector (Lutzomyia spp.). The latter is smaller than a mosquito, it feeds on an infected animal and then it bites a human, generating a sore on him.
Preliminarily, a laboratory work was developed using the entomological collection of genus Lutzomyia insects, the leishmaniasis vector. Later, as a derivation from that work and its information, I generated some inquiries about the localities where I could develop an approach to the community. On this way, I decided to review the Colombian epidemiological reports, and then, I selected three locations for educational work. I visited rural communities on Antioquia (Vegachí), Tolima (Chaparral) and Chocó (Acandí-San Francisco), where I developed an educative work. Additionally, since there is no leishmaniasis reported in Medellín, I decided to integrate photography, music and video, to build a presentation about the social work done in rural localities that is meant to be shared with different people in Medellín. The idea about the presentation also considers all the problems generated when communicating the basic characteristics of the disease to common people (not people that work with disease topics) that could get the infection when traveling to rural regions in Antioquia or Colombia. Likewise, I try to recognize the peasant collective memory that comprises their interpretations of diseases and their traditional medicine.
The linking element is the sense of freedom that allow the visitors to be touched by the videos, maps, music, tales, and stories put together as images in this site. All of them have the purpose of approaching the visitors to the reality of someone else's skin, most of the times, poor ones, people who debate their lives between necessity and struggle, and that might suffer the disease. However, it is not my intention to show skin injuries, but the sense of human life, the color, and the life of a population that remains true to it independently of their contact with the disease.
Brief summary work
1. Dry collection curatorship (permanent Lutzomyia slide mounts): I reviewed and organized glass slide mounts with different Lutzomyia species.
2. Alcohol collection curatorship: I separated all individuals that were stored in liquid. This material was in an 80% alcohol solution. All the individuals were put in glass vials specific labeled indicating a particular and consecutive number.
3. Systematization of material at insect collection: All insect information was digitalized to have easier access to it.
4. Taxonomical determination support: I supported all the taxonomical identifications by using classical taxonomy of the material collected during the time I was developing lab work.
5. Organization and determination of Collection Health Index: After curatorship collection, I analyzed all its information using the Collection Health Index (McGinley, 1993), in order to obtainPriorities at the collection management (Simmons y Muñoz-Saba, 2005).
6. Searching for epidemiological information: The entomological information was contrasted with the three official epidemiological reports from the Sectional Direction of Health for Antioquia, the National Institute of Health and the database of samples and isolates of Leishmaniaparasites obtained from patients registered at the PECET research group. All these processes were developed to select three localities to do an educational work focused on leishmaniosis disease, and for which I have both entomological and epidemiological reports.
7. Socialization activities with the community: In order to develop the social work, these are the criteria that I have to select in localities to work: Vector species presence, significant representation in numbers of these species in the entomological collection, presence of samples and isolates of Leishmania parasites in the PECET database, official reports of leishmaniasis positive cases, logistical and economical availability of projects in the lab. According to the above criteria, I selected three provinces: Tolima, Antioquia and Chocó. In these places, the specific localities selected were Chaparral, Vegachí and Acandí – San Francisco, respectively.
- Intervention and socialization strategies: I employed didactics tools with the communities, such as videos, pictures, posters and entomological material to explain the characteristics of leishmaniasis. Fieldwork socialization was based on the graphic register of all the activities made with the communities. This blog presents a summary of all the elements that were mentioned above, and it envisions to communicate my work to multiple publics trough internet.
About the leishmaniasis disease:
Leishmaniasis is a disease caused by a parasite of the Leishmania genus, and it is transmitted from a reservoir (like rodents, marsupials al other mammals) to human trough the bite of a Phlebotominae subfamily insect (in America by the Lutzomyiagenus and in other parts of the world by the Phlebotomus genus). The disease is presented in almost 22 countries of the new world (America) and in 66 countries of the old world (Europe, Asia, Africa). Leishmania infection could affect haematopoietic organs (liver, spleen, bone marrow), skin and mucosa. Leishmaniasis could exist in four different forms: visceral leishmaniasis (lethal form); cutaneous leishmaniasis (the most common form with skin lesions); mucocutaneous leishmaniasis (with lesions on skin and mucosa, principally in mouth and nose) and diffuse leishmaniasis (it generates disseminated lesions on skin) (WHO-TDR, 2004).
Conceptions of the visited populations:
"We all have two heads and two memories. One head of clay, that will become dust, and another forever invulnerable to the bites of time and passion. One memory that death kills, compass that ends the journey, and another memory, the collective memory, that will live on as long as the human adventure on the world is alive."
Eduardo Galeano, fragment from "Your other head, your other memory"
Conceptions of the visited populations:
Fieldwork was developed in order to take the lab closer to the community; however, it also envisions to approach these people and bring their traditional practices to the lab. In this section I present a summary of this work, from reasons why do not to go to the doctor, to the traditional forms used to cure the disease.
Ointment to cure the “Pito” (name with which the leishmaniasis vector is known in Vegachí) – Eloisa Mira, Vegachí – Antioquia
1. Clean the wound with a metallic sponge (a metal sponge)
2. After its cleaned, you take domeboro and clean the wound again.
3. Apply canime oil.
Video: How to cure the "Pito"
Description that Eloisa Mira made to explain the preparation of an ointment to cure leishmaniasis lesions. It is part of the social work of the undergraduate dissertation: A Contribution to Leishmaniasis Prevention: Taking the Lab closer to the Community.
TYPOGRAPHY – Why do not go to the doctor?
Video. 0’24’’, 2009. This work was made using a technique called typography. The animation was constructed from the audio recorded in a conversation with Eloisa Mira, at Las Vegas farm in Vegachí, Antioquia. I desire to generate an approach to the conception that peasants have about leishmaniasis disease.
Conversations about Leishmaniasis in Vegachí
Video. 5’13’’, 2009. It is a work developed from conversations with the communities of Vegachí, Antioquia, at Corinto and La Unión localities, principally in Las Vegas farm.
Summary of the traditional medicine:
It is very common to find the use of traditional medicines in order to treat leishmaniosis symptomatology. That was observed in all the places that I visited. Here, I present a summary of the treatments for each locality:
Chaparral: The population uses thermo-therapy on the lesion in this locality. Farmers suggested it.
Vegachí: The population uses hot lemon or hard-boiled egg on the lesion. Ointments, washing with “Rey soap” and “secretos” o “rezos” (prayers oriented by healers) are other practices. These traditional medicines were suggested by farmers and housewives who told me that those were the healer's traditional medicine.
Acandí – San Francisco: “Rezos” (prayers oriented by healers), hot lemon, “deshinchadota” plant, “Ñampi” fruit, coconut-shell scrapings, hot tobacco and “marañón” seed are used on the lesion. Farmers and children suggested these traditional medicines.
Names with which the vector is known (Lutzomyia spp.):
The scientific name of the vector is Lutzomyia spp.; however, there are several traditional names:
- The names used in Chaparral are “Capotillo” and “Palomilla”.
- The traditional names in Vegachí are “Aludo” or “Palomilla”.
- Finally, the vector is called “Chitra” or “Palomita” in Acandí and San Francisco.
Beliefs on the cycle of Leishmaniasis transmission
Video. 0'19''. Description of the leishmaniasis transmission cycle. This was expressed in Vegachí. It is part of the social work "Contribution to Leishmaniasis Prevention: Taking the Lab closer to the Community". This English version was made with the help of Karina Mondragón Shem and Juan Felipe Guevara.
This typography video was made from the audio recorded in a conversation with children in Acandi (Chocó, Colombia) focused on the leishmaniasis concetions in this area.
About the work music:
Comments - experimental video and music
Essential tremor - experimental video and music
This part of the work was made with the help of:
José Fernando Ramirez: Flutist, music student at the Eafit University.
Ramiro Ramirez Lemus: Oboist, music student at the Eafit University.
At the end of the work, I decided to create experimental music. The concept used to create the music was the images and the expericences in the field work. With the music, I try to call the attention of different people at the moment of an exhibition of my work; likewise, I know that music is not a conventional element in this kind of works. The music was composed based on oboe, flute, drums and electronic secuences with loops and samples.
Here you can see the videos (YouTube): http://www.youtube.com/alejandrovalenciat
This is the field work pictures selecction: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alejandrovalenciat/tags/campo/show/
This English version was made with the help of Karina Mondragón Shem and Juan Felipe Guevara