A Canadian team improves the quality of life of children in Honduras

When a medical-dental team from London, Ontario conducted clinics in rural Honduras, the working conditions were far from ideal, according to RN Esther Kern.

Clinics were held in schools in remote mountain villages, using open classrooms as examination and treatment rooms and desks for exam tables.

There was no access to running water or hand washing facilities. Everybody used outdoor latrines. Dogs, cats and chickens roamed around freely. There was no privacy, and community members watched all the proceedings through open doors and windows.

Despite interruptions caused by heavy rainfalls, the team visited three villages where clinics were held for a total of four and a half days. Some 350 children were seen and treated by the doctors and nurse on the team.

Some of the most common conditions were malnutrition and anemia; intestinal parasites; scabies and lice; upper respiratory and ear infections; fungal, bacterial, and viral infections; and diarrhea and dehydration caused by drinking unsafe water.

One young boy came to the clinic suffering from an upper respiratory infection and malnutrition. In addition, he had an old fractured right ankle, which was still causing pain and discomfort, especially when he walked. He was treated with analgesics, antibiotics and vitamins, and his ankle was wrapped to provide comfort and support.

According to Kern, he was frightened and tearful initially, but eventually his eyes brightened up and the tears were gone.

The dental team found dental decay to be rampant in these villages. In fact, only five of 185 children screened were free of decay. Most had teeth that were abscessed and many extractions were performed.

After the procedure was completed, the children were brought to the pharmacy room to receive fresh gauze and a resealable bag containing Tylenol Junior to control the pain.

One older girl, Maria, presented with significant pain and swelling in her right jaw, a result of severely abscessed teeth. She was only able to open her mouth about half an inch, hardly enough to be able to drink or eat normally.

She was given antibiotics for the infection and analgesics for the pain. The following morning, when she came to have the abscessed teeth extracted, the facial swelling had already diminished significantly. The team provided her with a full course of antibiotics to take following her treatment.

Kern says, “Thanks to the donated medicine, we are making a difference in the lives of impoverished children, the most vulnerable of Honduras, by improving their health status and quality of their lives.”