In El Salvador, children under the age of 5 suffer from a high incidence of infectious diseases and malnutrition (28% in rural areas). Despite advances in medical technology, these statistics have remained high for more than 50 years. Additionally, increased life expectancy has led to a rise in chronically degenerative diseases in old age. Even though people are living longer, their quality of life is declining because they do not have access to proper health care.
El Salvador’s National Commission of Health reports that the most marginalized sections of the population have difficulty accessing primary and specialty health care services. Poverty coupled with the high cost of services and a lack of health care providers has made access difficult for many. Specialty services including dermatology, dental hygiene, ophthalmology and cardiology are some areas that often remain untreated.
MTI Experience 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 2001, we have shipped 11 containers of medical supplies and sent 50 volunteer teams. These volunteer medical professionals have provided dental, nutrition, pediatric, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) training, disaster response, midwifery, internal medicine, dermatology, rehabilitation therapy and ophthalmology care.
While there are still considerable health needs in El Salvador, MTI will be focusing on countries in Central America that have greater health need - Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. MTI will deploy one ophthalmology team to treat people affected by cataracts, strabismus and pterygiums.
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.
Each volunteer health promoter works with approximately 50 families. These men and women visit them monthly and guide mothers through pregnancy. They are trained to identify danger signs during pregnancy and refer women immediately to a hospital as needed.