Sunday, January 13, 2013

VCU GH2DP Honduras Trip Update: Day 1

With Jean and Drs. Mason and Bearman at the
airport in San Pedro Sula. 
Today we travelled to the city of La Ceiba in northern Honduras, en route to our meetings with the ministry of health and local community partners in Olanchito, tomorrow. Our flight into San Pedro Sula went smoothly, and once at the airport we were able to pick up our truck and get on the road in good time. 

The sometimes harrowing three hour drive from San Pedro Sula to La Ceiba was a reminder that motor vehicle accidents are a major issue in Honduras.

Road accidents in Central Latin America (including Honduras) are one of the leading causes of years of years of life lost; ‘”years of life lost” (YLL) is another way to look at the affect of deaths on a population (a person who dies from a car accident at 20 accounts for more YLL than someone who dies from a heart attach at age 80, for example).

The graphic appearing below is from an online interactional tool based on data from the recently released Global Burden of Disease study. I have previously blogged about this study: it represents a herculean effort across nearly 500 researchers comparing morbidity and mortality in 2010 to 1990. This graphic depicts the 13 leading causes of YLL in Central Latin America in 1990 versus 2010.

Note that there have been major health advances in this region across this 20 year period: less children are now dying from diarrheal illness (the number 1 cause of YLL in 1990, down to number 13 in 2010). However, road injury is a major issue (number 3 cause of YLL in 2010) as is interpersonal violence (number 1 cause of YLL in 2010). 

Poster just outside the airport; there are
major issues with interpersonal
violence and drug trafficking in Honduras 
We frequently see people bathing and washing clothes
in rivers and streams; many people also obtain their
drinking water and wash eating utensils in these bodies of
water, as well 
In the roughly 3 hour drive from San Pedro Sula to
Cieba we passed through at least 3 police and
military check points
Getting back to our trip; here are a few brief observations from our drive from San Pedro Sula to La Ceiba: Honduras is a fantastically beautiful country; there were a lot of police and military checkpoints; as we typically observe, people frequently use natural water sources for washing and bathing (we also know many people also obtain their drinking water from these same water sources, a major factor in promoting diarrheal illness).

Tomorrow we trek on to Olanchito, stay tuned.

You can learn more about the VCU Global Health and Health Disparities Program (GH2DP) and our work in Honduras here

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