Tuesday, June 2, 2015

GH2DP Outreach Trip to Rural Yoro, Honduras: June 2015

Students and residents preparing water
filters in Lomitas
Our upcoming outreach trip to rural Yoro, Honduras is fast approaching. Our team, in collaboration with the local Ministry of Health and many local, regional and international partners, helps provide care to approximately 1,200 people from 17 villages. We have been working collaboratively to provide care in this region for the past 10 years.

Our team is once again fairly large and includes attending
physicians (pediatricians and internists), medical and pediatric residents, an attending pharmacist, students from medicine, pharmacy and public health in addition to an undergraduate engineering student and numerous other individuals. We are once again collaborating with colleagues from Brock University and the National Autonomous University of Honduras on a project exploring the local prevalence of soil-transmitted helminth (worm) infection.

Engineers Without Borders students with a novel rain
water catchment device in La Hicaca 
We will also get to see first-hand numerous other projects we have been longitudinally collaborating on: an improved cookstove project we have been working on with a local nonprofit (the Pico Bonito Foundation) as well as the placement of numerous new latrines. We will also get to see the new chlorination systems that were installed this past year. Six of the villages we serve (and approximately 40% of the population we serve) have access to water directly in their homes via a network of pipes that gravity-feed water from five different cisterns which are themselves fed by a river deeper in the mountains. We collaborated with local partners to install chlorination systems that slowly leach chlorine into water at the level of the cistern. We have had a water filter project in the region since 2008 that provides clean drinking water to the entire region. We know from our prior work these locally-created filters are clinically and microbiologically effective. Since the new chlorination systems have replaced the filters for the villages where these were installed we have a project that will look at the microbiologic and clinical effectiveness of these new systems. Additionally, we will also be testing water (at the level of individual homes) for chlorine content.

With colleagues from the National Autonomous University
of Honduras and Brock University
We have once again partnered with VCU's Engineers Without Borders student chapter to trial several novel clean water devices.

We also have a study focused on knowledge, attitudes and risk factors for the mosquito-borne diseases dengue and chikungunya.

In terms of our direct clinical work we have modified our typical clinic schedule somewhat in an attempt to be more accessible to patients in outlying areas. The population we serve is spread across a wide geographic area and some people travel 6 to 7 hours one way by foot to see us; unfortunately the infrastructure only provides a few road access points to facilitate moving our group and supplies. We hope our new schedule will allow us to serve more people.

Testing water for microbiologic contamination 
This year we will also be trialing a new education project focused on our student and resident trainees. This focuses on core content highlighted during the trip (focusing on demography, tropical dermatology, tropical infectious diseases and chronic disease screening).

Clinic in Lomitas 
We have a fantastic group this year who have worked very hard to prepare for this trip. I am absolutely thrilled to work with and learn from this amazing group of students, residents and our many community, regional and international partners.

I will blog about our trip as cellular access allows; we also will be tweeting about the trip (#GH2DP).

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