LeBrun, Roger [faculty advisor, Department of Plant Sciences]
Guaimaca; Honduras; healthcare; developing countries; medicine in underdeveloped countries
According to the United Nations, less than one-sixth of the world’s population is made up of the industrialized world. In contrast, the developing world, consisting of approximately 125 low and middle-income countries, is home to about 5.1 billion people. It is in these developing counties that there is an insatiable need for improved public health. In January of 2007, I spent a week working in a medical clinic in Guaimaca, Honduras. I witnessed first hand the suffering, poverty, and injustice of one small town. Yet, what struck me the most was that despite the hardships and the lack of basic medical necessities, the people of Guaimaca posses a spirit of courage, optimism, and determination. With limited resources, the people strive to overcome barriers and improve their living conditions. Their progress, however, is always severely restricted largely by reasons beyond their control. My experience in Honduras deepened my belief that everyone deserves proper healthcare, but also made me aware of the economic, political, and cultural barriers that limit the ability to attain these rights. To prepare for the trip I organized fundraisers, applied for a research grant, and solicited donations. I was able to fund the trip and raise $800 for the medical clinic in Guaimaca. The original purpose of my project was to gain a deeper understanding of the healthcare in Honduras by observing and aiding the local physician, however, my plans quickly changed. Instead of observing, I became a healthcare worker, taking patient histories diagnosing common illnesses, and handing out medications. Many of the illnesses that plague the local people are due to dehydration, malnutrition, and lack of proper sanitation. Most patients are unable to afford simple medications such as pain relievers and antibiotics. In addition, a lack of education leads to a failure to prevent diseases. My overall objective for the project is that through my stories and pictures, students at the University of Rhode Island and my surrounding community will gain a greater understanding of the hardships people face throughout the world. Many of the illnesses that plague developing countries can be prevented and cured. The first step in working towards this goal is to bring about a greater awareness and then hopefully more people will begin to take action.