A little help goes a long way

In a nursery school in a remote and impoverished area of Honduras, a medical team sets up a make-shift clinic. People walk down from the mountains – for some, a five-hour trip – looking for care.

Every day, the team sees 100-175 people.

This is an opportunity that the local population cannot miss. The only other clinic around charges for services and medications and most people are just too poor to pay. There used to be a clinic in the mountains that served the local people, but it is closed because the nurses have gone and there is nobody left to run it.

People here suffer from upper respiratory ailments, due in part to poor ventilation: they cook on open fires inside their homes, with no chimneys. Asthma, coughs and allergic rhinitis are common. People are farmers, so they contact skin conditions such as dermatitis and eczema. Hard physical labour results in generalized musculoskeletal pain. Almost all children suffer from intestinal parasites.

Canadians Marianne Tomlinson and Marilyn Nelles are part of the team, using Physician Travel Packs from HPIC to help supply the medication needed to run the clinic.

They meet an older woman who has obviously suffered greatly with her teeth. She has five teeth pulled the day she comes to the clinic. Team members give her extra strength Tylenol for pain, vitamins to strengthen her, and antibiotics to combat infection.

Because of the respiratory issues in the community, the cough syrup turns out to be extremely useful, as are the vitamins and parasite medication for the children. Antibiotics and pain relievers are used to treat a wide variety of conditions.

The treatment is not complex, but it is desperately needed for each one of these patients. A little help goes a long way.

Nelles says, “You should see the appreciation from these people. They are so very grateful! Most are almost speechless with gratitude.”