Poverty, coupled with the high cost of services and a lack of health care providers has made access difficult for many. El Salvador’s National Commission of Health reports that the most marginalized communities have very serious difficulty accessing primary and specialty health care services. Specialty services including dermatology, dental hygiene, ophthalmology and cardiology are some areas that often remain untreated.
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Over a quarter of all rural children (under 5 years of age) in El Salvador suffer from high rates of malnutrition and infectious disease. Despite advances in medical technology, these numbers have remained dangerously high for more than 50 years.
Declining quality of life in old age
While some developments have been made, increased life expectancy has led to a rise in degenerative diseases-- even though people are living longer, their quality of life is declining because they do not have access to proper health care.
Did you know?
- 12% have no access to clean water
- 16% of children suffer from some form of malnutrition
- 28% of rural children suffer from high rates of malnutrition and infectious diseases
- 51% of children under the age of one living in rural areas suffer from anemia
Medical Teams International in El Salvador
We sent our first team to El Salvador in 1986 and returned 15 years later to provide medical care to earthquake victims near San Salvador. Since then, our volunteer teams of medical professionals have provided dental, nutrition, pediatric, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) training, disaster response, midwifery, internal medicine, dermatology, rehabilitation therapy and ophthalmology care.
Working with a local partner in Santa Ana, our current work in El Salvador focuses on providing surgeries (mostly cataract, strabismus and pterygium) to to people who would not be otherwise able to afford these surgeries. These surgeries help address long-term, chronic and/or degenerative diseases that would otherwise drastically harm the person's quality of life and ability to survive.
A Salvadoran doctor established ASAPROSAR in 1985 to provide health care for the marginalized members of society—children, adolescents and women. Located in Santa Ana, ASAPROSAR specializes in rural health care work and preventative care. The organization selects and teaches health promoters to work in local villages. ASAPROSAR currently serves 80,000 people with minimal staff and the assistance of hundreds of volunteers.
The organization describes its mission this way: "Improve the quality of life for the neediest families of El Salvador through integration and linking of programs to meet the fundamental needs of sanitation, environment, education, culture, economics and health. Priority is given to children, youth and women of the rural areas and marginalized urban settings."