Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Honduras Day 3-4: January 15 and 16, 2013

We started off another early morning in Olanchito with a delicious Honduran breakfast at the Hotel Beverly. 

By 8 am, we met with nurse Sara Hernandez of the Ministry of Health. The topics of discussion were the ongoing water filter project, mass de-worming of intestinal parasites and women’s health maintenance. Then, we reviewed epidemiologic surveillance confirming the positive impact of the water filter project on the incidence of diarrhea in La Hicaca and environs.

Next, we pressed on to La Hicaca for a round of meetings with community leaders. The village was rustic and gritty, per usual. We hiked up to the town’s water cistern, to view firsthand the inadequacy of the general water supply. This year, we will expand the water filter project by approximately 160 filters to provide water purification units to essentially the entire population of La Hicaca and surrounding area (2000 people). Much of this is driven by the success of last year’s water sanitation research study, completed by Jackie Arquiette.

Audrey Le completed an indoor air pollution research study last year. In collaboration with local community leadership, we will embark on an indoor air pollution education project, as requested by local leaders to correct the problems of indoor smoke induced respiratory problems. The goal is to educate and empower the local community to modify their cook stoves and chimneys to limit smoke in the homes. Other goals for the next brigade are to supply additional speculums for pap smear testing, glasses and dental extraction services. 

As we wandered through the village, we made a few medical housecalls.

In the evening, we settled down in the home of a local family. Our gracious hosts fed us a delicious meal of beans, rice, tortillas and cheese. We spent the night in rustic Honduran homes and got a true flavor of life in the country. In the absence of electricity, candles would have to suffice as our reading lights.

By 3 AM the cacophony of roosters, chickens and pigs adjacent to the window was overwhelming. I dialed up the volume on my headphones to drown out the noise but no such luck was in order. In rural Honduras, there is no sleeping in late. The early morning view from the mountainside is always breathtaking, making it all worthwhile.

After a breakfast of tortillas, beans, eggs and black coffee, we set off for the neighboring village of Lomitas to meet with local community leaders. This year, we will hold two days of clinic in Lomitas to better target the more distant surrounding aldeas (villages). Water filters will also be distributed on site in Lomitas this year.

By noon, we had lunch in a hillside, country home with a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains. Honduras is as topographically beautiful as it is financially poor.

The 2013 relief trip is taking form. As always, our overarching goal is to sustain a collaborative, longitudinal project to maximize the health of the local community, as I have previously explored in a blog.

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