A Peculiar native will be spending the next 12 months helping people in Malawi, Africa.
Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Lucas Henry, 29, left the United States on July 20 with a group of 30 other medical professionals as a volunteer with the inaugural Global Health and Service Partnership.
“It’s an innovative public-private partnership between the Peace Corps, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Seed Global Health,” Henry said.
In southeast Africa, Henry’s job will be to help teach medical students, residents and clinical officers about psychiatry in the country at a local university.
He will also be working with patients to better serve the needs of children, adolescents and adults with various mental health issues.
“The degree of disparity and need was an attractive force for this opportunity,” said Henry, who also shared that he has always had an interest of seeing more of the world and doing service to his country.
In a country of approximately 15 million people, Henry said you can count the number of psychiatrists on one or two hands, noting that the need for properly-trained mental health caretakers is great.
“The idea behind this organization is to put physician and nurse educators in parts of the world where there is not much access to health care resources,” Henry said. “For me, I think it is very easy to lose sight of the broader flock of humanity that’s out there. There are parts of the where there is incredible poverty and incredible amounts of hunger, devastation due to disease, war and other calamities.”
The group of medical personnel chosen for the program have been divided into three smaller groups to work in Tanzania and Uganda, as well as Malawi.
Henry grew up in Cass County, attending the Raymore-Peculiar School District from kindergarten through his senior year.
After graduating from high school in 2002, Henry pursued medical studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, earning his medical degree six years later.
“I always joke with people that I think part of the reason why I decided to become a psychiatrist was because I grew up in Peculiar, where “the odds are with you,” Henry said.
Henry went on to complete a psychiatry residency in Minnesota, and a childhood/adolescent psychiatry fellowship at the University of Chicago.
Those interested in following Henry’s journey can do so by visiting his blog at www.lucashenry.com.