Sunday, January 13, 2013

VCU's Global Health & Health Disparities Program Sets Off for Honduras

Drs. Mason, Stevens and Bearman meeting with community
leaders and the minister of health, Olanchito, Honduras,
January 2012
Today our team leaves to meet with community leaders and the ministry of health in Yoro, Honduras

Traveling to La Hicaca
Since 2008 we have been serving people across a series of 17 villages in and around the La Hicaca area of rural Honduras. There are approximately 2,000 people in this area, most of whom have extremely limited access to healthcare (see here for a study we did in 2011 looking at people’s ability to access care in this area). We have a large-scale water filter program in the area, and participate in direct medical care, as well. We work closely with our community partners to support health projects they identify as being high yield (some past examples of such projects include a water chlorination education campaign, an anemia point prevalence survey and a survey project examining indoor air pollution).

Drs. Mason, Bearman and Stevens working on the
water filter program, La Hicaca
Every January a small group of us goes down to meet with our community partners and the ministry of health. Our purpose with these trips is three-fold: to prepare for our (larger) June medical trip, to identify new ways in which we can support the people we serve, and to report back on our findings from the previous trip’s work. This year we will be presenting our data from the anemia point prevalence survey, from our survey project on indoor air pollution, and from our study examining the clinical and microbiologic efficacy of our water filter program. Of note, the 2 lead student researchers on the two latter studies just presented their data at yesterday's Virginia ACP Associates' meeting. 

Working on the anemia point prevalence survey, La Hicaca,
June 2012
Since the inception of our program (the VCU Global Health & Health Disparities Program, or GH2DP), we have had over 8,000 direct medical and pediatric encounters, and have distributed over 200 water filters (each of which will provide clean drinking water to an entire family for 2+ years). We also provide de-worming therapy and have been involved in numerous other projects since 2008.

Providing clinical care, La Hicaca, June 2012
For anyone interested in our work, please consider following along as we conduct our planning trip. I will attempt to blog "from the field," and will provide updates in as close to real-time as I am able.

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