Nicaragua has a long history of natural disaster, social conflict and revolution. Unfortunately, these events have wreaked havoc on Nicaragua’s economy and health care system. While improvements to the economy have been made, as of 2012 Nicaragua was second only to Haiti in the percentage of its population living under $2 per day which is approximately 32%. About 63 percent of rural households are living in poverty.
In poor rural areas and areas with indigenous populations, primary health concerns include neonatal mortality, maternal mortality, and communicable diseases. Mortality in children under 5 is approximately 26/1000 and the maternal death ratio is 95 deaths per 100,000 births. The leading causes are diarrhea, respiratory disease, malnutrition, and meningitis.
While non-communicable disease is a broad concern, its characterization in the urban setting can be unique. Within the non-communicable disease category, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer are leading causes. In the urban population, mental illness, neurosis, alcoholism and violence are of particular concern. Leading causes of non-communicable disease deaths in young people aged 10-19 include traffic accidents, suicide, drowning, injuries and leukemia.
Nicaragua also has a high risk for natural disaster as it is susceptible to hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, flooding and droughts. Each of these has their own direct and indirect health impacts including, but not exclusively: injury, changes in disease patterns, crop loss, loss of housing.
MTI Experience in Nicaragua
Medical Teams International has provided various types of support, including grant funding and volunteer teams. We have sent volunteer teams to Nicaragua since 1999. In partnership with AMC, a Nicaraguan Christian nonprofit, our volunteers have provided:
- Emergency medical care to survivors of Hurricane Mitch
- Dental care for impoverished families and training for dental health promoters
- OB/GYN and midwifery training to enhance the skills of local midwives
- Medical services for people without access to care
MTI will continue to collaborate with AMC in the coming years. MTI and AMC are actively exploring new ways to collaborate in order meet the varied and emerging health needs of Nicaraguans.