Tuesday, January 15, 2013

VCU GH2DP Honduras Trip Update: Potpourri

Up early in Olanchito, working on our report for the Health Minister and waiting for the day to ramp up.

Here are a few additional (somewhat random) thoughts on some of the things we saw yesterday. 

One of the key pieces of advice I give my travel clinic patients is to be very careful not to ingest municipal water in developing countries (this is a major risk factor for developing diarrheal illness). This includes not eating fresh vegetables (which likely have been washed in bacterial-contaminated municipal water). The caveat to this is that these foods may be okay to eat if you know they were washed with clean water. 

Here is a picture of the lettuce for yesterday's lunch meeting being washed using a water purification system; I went for it, so far so good. 

Lettuce being washed by water purification system

Picture from local pharmacy
Another thing that always surprises me is how many antibiotics one can buy over the counter at pharmacies here; one can find almost anything, including injectables. You only need money to access these medications: they are available without prescription. 

I have never seen local data on antibiotic resistance, but I imagine it is high (at least in the cities) for some of the most common, cheapest antibiotics (such as amoxicillin, which is available here in supermarket checkout lines, like gum and candy are in the US). 

Beyond driving antibiotic resistance, inappropriate antibiotic use can lead to drug toxicity and treatment failure (prescribing the right antibiotic for the right condition for the right amount of time is often tricky for physicians; if the antibiotic is chosen without professional guidance the likelihood its use will be appropriate is low). 

Some good information from the WHO on the appropriate use of antibiotics (including in developing countries) can be found here.

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

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