Friday, July 15, 2011

A health update

For the third time in four weeks I came down with a serious case of diarrhea. I finally decided to go to a different doctor in a private hospital here in Santa Rosa de Copán.

I arrived at about 3 o’clock but had to wait to about 5:30 to see the doctor. After a through examination she told me I had amoebae. I have several different medicines to take and have to go back next week to see here after getting a series of laboratory tests.

I am still feeling out of it, but managed to facilitate a workshop on conflict transformation in the aldea of Cementera in Lepaera, in the department of Lempira. I’ll write more on this later.

Transformation of conflicts workshop in Cementera
I am grateful that I got decent medical treatment but I realize that the cost of the prescriptions and the doctor’s appointment (about $80 in all – even with a senior citizen’s discount), was more than many Hondurans make in a month and is about a quarter of the minimum wage here.

This is a privilege of being North-American with access to half-way decent medical care. Many people have little or no access to decent health care, walking miles to a government clinic that is often under-staffed and does not always have the medicine that is needed for basic health needs.

All the more reason to be here, to help people here work for change, and to accompany them as they seek what is needed for healthy communities.

As I reflect on this I recall my visit last week to the village of Quebrada Grande in the parish of Dulce Nombre, accompanying one of the Caritas workers in  a project to promote maternal and infant health. (The project is partially funded by Catholic Relief Services; a video on the project can be found on the CRS Operation Rice Bowl website, here. Ignore the written commentary which is about a different CRS project.) Volunteer monitors in the villages are trained to do monthly weigh-ins of infants under two. 

Weighing an infant in Quebrada Grande
In Quebrada Grande a few months ago eleven out of the twenty-two infants were seriously underweight. Last week only nine were underweight, but that is still the worst percentage in the communities being served by this program. There are many causes, including poor water and insufficient food this time of the year. And so there are some efforts being made by Caritas and Catholic Relief Services to improve the diet and health of the people. The project helps the mothers improve the diet of their children, promoting breast-feeding and providing some training on healthful preparation of food.

I was recently able to get some fortified rice from a local evangelical group that is distributing packets prepared in the Mid-West by a group headquartered in Minnesota. One of the monitors prepared the rice and shared it with the kids and mothers. The mothers told me that the kids did like it - as opposed to some other enriched products that mothers and children dislike and reject.

Feeding her child Kids Against Hunger fortified rice
This village is fortunate to have good staff at the local health clinic (about 45 minutes away) and one of the nurses there came and spoke with the mothers with underweight children. Most of them were referred to the clinic later this month when a group of doctors will be there.

This is but a drop in the bucket of need here. As I have mentioned before there is need a major transformation here, what some people, mostly in the Resistance,  are calling the Refoundation of Honduras.

Perhaps one day, all will have access to the health care I have been able to have, with my US dollars.

1 comment:

Tom Kent said...

Make sure you got the medicine that kills the amoeba eggs. A couple other volunteers here got amoebas every few months, after more investigation we found out that the doctors weren't prescribing (because it wasn't readily available here) the drug that gets the eggs, just the drug that gets the actual amoeba. Good luck!