Wednesday, January 16, 2013

VCU GH2DP Honduras Trip Update: Days 3-4

Sharing data with the Health Minister, Olanchito
Yesterday morning we got up early and met with the Health Minister in Olanchito. We shared data from the projects we undertook on our June 2012 trip, including our water filter testing project, anemia point prevalence survey and indoor air quality project. We discussed current health issues facing the communities we serve in and around La Hicaca, and discussed ways we can support the Ministry of Health improve the health of the communities we serve.

Dr. Patrick Mason doing an impromptu
clinical consultation 
We then traveled up to La Hicaca where we had a busy day; we visited with local community leaders where we shared the results of the aforementioned projects, and also did a few impromptu clinical visits, inspected the local cistern (a fairly sophisticated structure that pipes in water from two or so hours away, but that has fallen into disrepair) and also inspected several indoor stoves and water filters.

Sharing data with local community
 leaders in La Hicaca
Examining the cistern above La Hicaca
Inspecting water filters
We found out some very interesting things in our conversations with the Health Minister and local community leaders. In our indoor air quality survey we identified that, in general, there was poor understanding about the connection between smoke inhalation and respiratory problems. Our in-country contacts confirmed this, and also helped us identify that indoor smoke is often generated by poorly maintained stove chimneys. This is important as these chimneys can be repaired relatively cheaply and be made to more efficiently ventilate smoke. We were asked to conduct an educational campaign during our next brigade highlighting the relationship between indoor smoke and respiratory health.

School in La Hicaca
We also visited the school where we typically set up our clinic and learned the roof has fallen into disrepair.

Here is an example of a well-connected
chimney entering a stove; we found that
many chimneys were not attached
to the stoves at all, allowing smoke to
freely enter into the home 
We were welcomed into local homes to spend the night and then traveled on to an even more remote village, Lomitas, today. I will blog more on today’s events in a future post. 

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

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