Friday, July 8, 2016

Nicaragua: Community-based Public Health

I am very impressed with the community-based healthcare approach that is used by AMOS, the organization that we are currently working with here in Nicaragua. During the first 3 weeks of our program, we were learning a lot of the theory and techniques that are utilized in the communities. During our 4th week in country, we visited a community located about 6 hours from Managua where we learned the basics of water filters and their maintenance. Through our work in the community, we saw the application of many of the theories that we had been practicing in class. 

As there are no roads between many of the houses and the homes can be quite distant from one another, each of the groups was given a sector in the community and a list of houses to visit to assess the condition and upkeep of the filters. We also had health stations in the community during our visit. This is an event that is used to target the health of pregnant women and children under 5 in the community. We completed nutritional surveys, checked height and weight, checked for anemia, educated on Zika, and each person received a consultation with the doctor and/or nurse. 

At the end of the week, we presented our findings to the health committee in the community and assisted them with putting together the beginning of their plan to solve the current health issues. They began with a skit at a community gathering in which they demonstrated the importance of eating more vegetables and fruits and less “chiverias” (junk food, such as candy and chips). 

We visited this first community to “learn the ropes” and have some experience working with a well-organized community before beginning our long-term projects in the department of la RACCS. I am currently working with 4 other volunteers, a nurse (Kenia), a doctor (Renee), and our awesome volunteer coordinator (Desiree) on completing a barrier analysis and recruiting volunteer mothers to increase the amount of women in the community that go to prenatal appointments and decrease the amount of women that have home births. These long term projects lower the number of maternal and child deaths in the community and increase the overall health of both mother and child. 

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