Poverty restricts access to reliable health services and information about health risks, thereby increasing the incidence of preventable diseases and death.
Bringing health care to a community that has never had it before is no small task. In December 2014, a new hospital was inaugurated in Nueva Concepcion, Guatemala. For the first time, 13,000 people had access to medical care. CHOICE Guatemala and 23 communities in the Chulac Region joined forces with other NGO’s, religious organizations, business, and government organizations to create this long-needed facility. Before the completion, residents had to travel 65 miles for hospital care. This cost and distance of this travel prohibited villagers from receiving adequate healthcare.
In 2016 two operating rooms were added to the hospital with the help of Rotary Clubs in Farmington, Utah and Puerto Barrios in Guatemala. As a result, several nonprofit medical teams will use the rooms and facilities a few times each year for surgical procedures. Smiles for Life charities, a nonprofit dental organization is now using the medical facility for their mobile dental clinic when they are in the area.
For Mrs. Rosa Alta, the hospital is the fulfillment of her deepest wish. Unfortunately, Rosa lost
several children to pregnancy complications. Something as simple as unattended dysentery, a situation easily remedied when treated, turned fatal because Rosa lacked access to healthcare. Rosa worried that her daughters, now adults, would also experience the same painful experience of losing a child. “I think the hospital is amazing. It will change the lives of my children and grandchildren,” says Rosa.
A 15-bed inpatient building of Palung Primary Health Center was jointly inaugurated by doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation, Labsher Bista-the Mayor of Thaha Municipality and Prateek Sharma-Director of CHOICE Nepal. doTERRA purchased the necessary equipment and CHOICE Nepal monitors the center and the equipment every three months. Now this hospital provides several services to these villagers for the first time.
Hospitals are not the only way to address the medical needs of those living in rural communities of developing countries. CHOICE Kenya has an extensive village healthcare worker program. The Kenyan government currently has a healthcare training program that, unfortunately, does not extend to the remote areas where it is needed most. CHOICE strategically bridges the gap in healthcare delivery by piggy packing on their program, curricula, materials, and trainings. This collaboration between CHOICE and the Kenya Ministry of Health connects dozens of rural villages, comprising tens of thousands of Kenyans, by training these village healthcare workers and effectively bringing health services into the rural area. Creating effective collaboration, leveraging funds, and avoiding duplication of efforts all help CHOICE to significantly impact the healthcare of rural Kenyans.
The result is the creation of well-trained village healthcare workers whose skills include: nutrition, prenatal health care, water safety, sanitation, hygiene, water-borne diseases, and child health care. There is one village healthcare worker for every 20 households linking them to a local health facility.
These areas have seen an improvement in the following areas:
- Use of the local health facility
- Hospital deliveries reducing maternal mortality rates
- Attendance in growth monitoring clinics for children under five
- Output by the community due to better health standards
- Decrease in child mortality rate
- Pregnancy complications
- Easily preventable disease have decreased
- Increase in latrine use, mosquito nets, and polio vaccinations
This program has received many accolades from the Kenya Ministry of Health for our collaboration on this program and has inspired the government to build local health dispensaries.
For people living in extreme poverty, access to dental care is non-existent, so children and adults are living in unnecessary pain that affects learning, working, and every aspect of life. That’s why CHOICE partners with Roy A. Hammond, DDS and the Smiles for Life Foundation on dental health. Smiles for Life coordinates and provides leadership to teams of dentists in Nepal, Guatemala, Mexico, and Bolivia. Due to the establishment of permanent care facilities, manned by local dental students and dental care providers, dental health awareness and access to dental care have increased exponentially.
In Bolivia, 95% of children have multiple cavities. However, parents do not have money to pay for extensive dental work and children fear going to the dentist. For those living in extreme poverty, receiving expensive dental care is not even an option. Children are left to live with their pain and suffering.
For these reasons, CHOICE Bolivia has partnered with NoDK, a dental program that replaces the standard “drill and fill” procedure with a combination of silver nitrate and fluoride. The silver kills the bacteria and the fluoride hardens what’s left of the tooth. Silver has been used to safely and effectively treat tooth decay for more than 100 years. Locally-trained individuals deliver this innovative and painless treatment in community settings, removing the high costs of traditional dental office equipment.
With this program, children are no longer afraid to receive dental care and sedation. The use of local and general anesthesia has also been dramatically reduced. Most importantly, children treated with silver nitrate and fluoride have developed far fewer cavities, demonstrating a preventative effect.
With one more stress removed, families are now able to focus on other areas of development that can effectively move them out of extreme poverty.