The Needs of the Community
The village of Limón is located 20 miles southeast of the city of Rivas in the Pacific lowlands region of Nicaragua. The region is popular for coastal tourism, namely surfing, and is known for its colonial heritage, beach communities, mountains, and volcanoes. Directly outside the upscale resorts, however, are numerous impoverished communities which depend on medical care provided by overburdened government clinics.
As one of the poorest countries in the Americas, Nicaragua presents serious challenges related to health care. Nearly half of Nicaragua’s population lives below the poverty line and nearly half lacks sustained access to proper sanitation. According to the World Health Organization, only 6.3% of Nicaragua’s population carries health insurance. As a result, child illness and mortality rates are high for the region, and preventable or treatable conditions such as respiratory diseases, diarrhea, and malnutrition make up the main causes of death for children under five.
FIMRC’s Project Limón brings medical care to children living in remote areas of rural Nicaragua through two distinct channels. The first is by forming collaborative partnerships with neighboring health care facilities. The second is offering triage health care at its very own pediatric health clinic out of the Casa de Refugio. The Casa de Refugio is the hub of FIMRC activity and houses many Global Health Volunteer Program and health education activities.
A partnership with the government health post in nearby Las Salinas serves as one of the bases from which FIMRC provides free pediatric care to 8 communities. The health post staffs a doctor and two nurses and maintains partnerships with other government entities. The community of Las Salinas has a well organized community leadership that supports the health clinic as well as outreach programs to local schools and homes. The Las Salinas Health Post provides primary care, emergency care, and health education to children and adults. In partnership with the health post, FIMRC aims to expand the program of free medical care for children while providing Global Health Volunteers the opportunity to serve the community alongside the medical staff in preventive health measures. Additionally, FIMRC’s partnership with Hospital Gaspar Garcia, located in Rivas, affords Global Health Volunteers currently enrolled in medical school the opportunity to observe surgeons while getting a first-hand glimpse into the national public health system on a large scale.
The FIMRC pediatric health clinic is managed by the region’s lone registered pediatrician, thanks to the successful recruiting efforts of Project Limón’s former Field Operations Manager. The clinic houses an administrative office, a patient waiting area, and a private consultation room for patients. FIMRC takes a holistic approach to providing access to all children in the region through clinical services as well as a comprehensive health outreach program. In an effort to reduce infant and child mortality, children 0 – 5 and expecting mothers are seen by the pediatrician. In addition, FIMRC staff is responsible for pre-natal and post-partum care that focuses on well child visits, health education and disease prevention. Health outreach includes but is not limited to house visits, an expecting mother health education group and special campaigns targeted at expecting mothers.
In 2009, Field Operations Manager Greg Macdonald conducted a sample survey focused on children's and women's health in Limón and the surrounding communities. A copy of the resulting analysis can be found here: link.