I recently traveled to Catacamas, Honduras with a Baylor Scott and White “brigade” of medical providers. I learned so much. Working with Predisan Health Ministries was both boldly informative and, at the same time, humbling. A Christian based non-profit organization, Predisan’s intent is to “Proclaim Jesus and heal lives”. Their efforts have engaged teams of medical providers and health advocates to fortify the physical, mental, and emotional health of the Honduran people. There is no way I can adequately describe my experience. It was so powerful. I would, however, love to share five “take-aways” that I learned while overseas:
- Honduras is Central America’s second poorest country and approximately 63% of the population live in poverty. The poor are vulnerable to disease (The Borgen Project), becoming ill and many dying due to lack of affordable health care, clean water and adequate sanitation methods..
- Diabetes is among the most common chronic disease and cause of death in Honduras. Approximately 5.7% of the population has been diagnosed with diabetes (compared to 7.4% of the Texas population). In Honduras, an estimated 53% of those with diabetes are undiagnosed(Central American Diabetes Initiative CAMDI). Common morbid complications of diabetes include kidney failure, blindness, lower extremity amputations, and heart disease.
- Honduran food tastes really good. I loved the fresh beans, chicken, tortillas, fruit, and rice. The traditional carneada (orange and spice-soaked meat dish) sounds delicious. I plan to try that next trip. No medical information here, just good-food talk.
- Honduras has one of the highest rates of depression in the world with 7% of their population suffering significant depression according to the Washington Post. Globally, depression is the second leading cause for disability. Violent conflict and disease along with lack of social and medical resources make it more difficult to diagnose and treat patients. Interesting fact: The country with the lower rate of depression is Japan (2.5%).
- A stethoscope is a good device, but the IWatch and iPhone can be so helpful. A Honduran patient in the central clinic complained of shortness of breath, lower leg swelling, and cough. On exam, I found she was in heart failure. Without access to X-ray, electrocardiogram, or immediate blood test results, our diagnostic capabilities were limited. The cardiologist among us had an IWatch. We had the patient place her two fingers on the watch face and within seconds we had our diagnosis: Atrial fibrillation with rapid ventricular response. The treatment strategy became clear and we were able to better manage the patient. I also used several iPhone Apps for medication references and pill picture identification. Thank you, technology!
Predisan Health Ministries works with the government to empower the medical community to serve its people. If you are interested in donating or volunteering with Predisan, go to Predison.org for more information.