Health and Life in Honduras.
Behind Haiti, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, Honduras ranks among the poorest countries in Latin America and the Caribbean with an estimated 60% of its population living in poverty. Poverty is more pronounced in rural areas, although continued rural-urban migration is creating urban poverty belts. The country has an unequal distribution of income, as well as high under-employment.
Unfortunately, the geographic location of the country makes it particularly vulnerable to natural disasters like hurricanes, droughts and floods. Several devastating disasters over the years have drained the Honduran economy and continue to prevent the government from offering adequate health services to the entire population. Over 50% of the Honduran population lives below the national poverty line with 35% of the population living on less than $2 per day. In recent months,
Poverty, social and economic inequalities and high levels of insecurity in the country present significant challenges to improving the health status of Hondurans, particularly the most vulnerable: women, newborns, children under five, and those at most risk of contracting HIV.
Fertility, maternal and infant mortality, and malnutrition rates are high by developed country standards, and rural/urban and socioeconomic differentials in these rates mask serious deficiencies. According to the most recent country data from Honduras, the total fertility rate
is 3.3, maternal mortality stands at 108/100,000 live births, infant mortality at 23/1000, and under-five mortality (<5MR) at 30/1000 live births. Stunting (height for age) in children under five is 25% nationally, but can reach 50% in some rural areas. Approximately 30% of the Honduran population lacks access to permanent, quality health services.
A significant challenge to the health system and to the country as a whole is the surge in violence attributed to organized crime and drug trafficking. The increase in violence not only places additional strain on the health system, but also constrains the ability of health workers and promoters to provide services, including community outreach. While crime and violence is a reality in Honduras, US travelers have not typically been targeted.
In 1998, Hurricane Mitch ravaged Honduras, creating a tremendous need for international assistance. Medical Teams International responded quickly and worked in partnership with Cadena de Amor to aid the hurricane victims. Since that time, we have worked to meet the ongoing development needs in Honduras through partnerships with local Honduran agencies. We have:
- Provided health and medical services to more than 30,000 people through PAG's Community Health program.
- Conducted an EMS "Train the Trainers" program in partnership with the Red Cross.
- Shipped 82 containers of humanitarian aid.
- Helped 90,632 Hondurans reduce their vulnerability of contracting HIV and AIDS through PAG's HIV and AIDS prevention and education project.
- Provided dental care for approximately 20,000 children in rural Honduran villages in partnership with Cadena de Amor.
MTI Plans for 2013-2014
Medical Teams International plans to send 22 volunteer teams to Honduras this year. Twelve of these teams will focus exclusively on building the capacity of local health workers in specialty areas, including adult and pediatric cardiology, radiology, cardiology, OB/GYN, alcohol and drug rehabilitation, child nutrition and gastroenterology. The other 10 teams will provide medical and dental care for families living in rural communities.
MTI Partners in Honduras
- Asociación el Buen Pastor (ABP) manages a rural health clinic outside of Catacamas, Olancho, that services approximately 22,000 people annually. Medical Teams International sends specialty training teams to build the capacity of the clinic’s general physicians in key areas such as cardiovascular disease, gynecology, radiology and urology. Increasing the knowledge and services available allows the clinic to offer more comprehensive care to the population it serves.
- Cadena de Amor (Chain of Love) provides free dental care for children, orphans and people with disabilities. In collaboration with Medical Teams International, Cadena de Amor coordinates free dental clinics throughout the country. They also facilitate and fund trips for children to travel to the United States to receive specialty surgeries not available in Honduras. MTI will send six dental teams to Cadena de Amor to provide care for children as well as oral hygiene promotion to parents of children that seek care.
- PREDISAN is a medical mission located in the city of Catacamas. The organization has a large central clinic, 2 rural clinics and 5 mountain clinics that provide basic medical care and community health services. PREDISAN also administers a drug and alcohol treatment center, a vocational school and rural health care worker training program. MTI will send four medical training teams to provide training in breast ultrasound mammography and EKG training.
- Proyecto Aldea Global (Project Global Village, PAG) has supported integrated community development projects and provided medical care to remote villages in central Honduras since 1984. Their clinic in San Isidro provides community education and health promotion training, as well as, basic medical services to more than 8,400 people. PAG aims to improve crop production, grain storage, water and sanitation, natural resource and micro watershed management, microfinance, education, HIV and AIDS education and nutrition for impoverished Hondurans. MTI will send two primary care, direct service teams as well as three teams that will provide training in laboratory skills and water pasteurization and education training.
- Note: Volunteers should familiarize themselves with the security situation in Honduras by researching various websites: the Overseas Security Advisory Council - http://www.osac.gov, the U.S. Department of State - http://travel.state.gov, Australia’s Smart Traveler’s website - http://smarttraveler.gov.au and the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Common wealth Office website - http://smarttraveler.gov.au. Volunteers should enroll in the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program – STEP (https://step.state.gov) or at the website for the country of their citizenship in order to be assisted if services are required.
Please donate or volunteer to help save lives in Honduras.