The Land of Volcanoes
El Salvador is the smallest yet most densely populated country in Central America. It has been greatly affected by a large number of natural disasters including flooding, droughts, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The disasters have created serious problems related to infrastructure, food security and water quality, which all contribute to a number of health issues. While the government has been a leader in the region for health programs targeting some of the main problems, funding is a constant issue and threatens the progress that has been made in spite of the harsh environmental factors.
Maternal mortality continues to be a public health problem in which little progress has been made. Multiple factors contribute to the issue such as economic and social conditions, gender inequalities and limitations on sexual and reproductive health rights of the population; as well as geographic and cultural barriers for adequate prenatal care. -WHO
The Micro Health Insurance Program
In February, 2008, we founded a clinic in the rural Las Delicias community, located 45 minutes outside of the capital city. With a population of nearly 3,000, Las Delicias sits in a beautiful valley and is divided into 6 sectors. With low employment rates in the formal sector, as well as excitement by community members to participate in health education, the world's first ever non-monetary Micro Health Insurance Program was established.
Las Delicias is located 35km outside of San Salvador in the department of La Libertad. The community is nestled among coffee plantations, corn fields and sugar cane.
The closest government clinic is located 10km from the community but can take nearly two hours to reach due to public transportation. The clinic is saturated with patients and often lacks the resources necessary to adequately treat the population.
We started with a health census. We met with the leaders and started working alongside the Ministry of Health. We sat and talked to community members. We developed programs and services based on the actual, current needs and have continued to expand them as we grow.
Learn More About Las Delicias +
Insufficient income has a serious adverse effect on the general health and vitality of the population. During the civil war in the mid-1980s, El Salvador was among the countries of the Western Hemisphere most seriously affected by malnutrition. Today, the principal causes of death remain as gastroenteritis, influenza, pneumonia, and bronchitis, caused or complicated by malnutrition, bad sanitation, and poor housing. Children are particularly vulnerable to health related issues linked to poverty including diarrhea, head lice, malnutrition, and bronchial infections.
Community members, as well as patients from twelve outlying communities, receive services at the clinic, including pediatric attention, prenatal and postpartum care. FIMRC works in conjunction with the Ministry of Health, the local development association and other partners on preventative health education. The main focus of the community outreach is to prevent common problems in the area such as malnutrition, gastrointestinal illnesses and respiratory infections. A majority of the health issues are due to a lack of education, scarce resources and poor water quality.
The innovative Micro Health Insurance Program (MHIP) was also launched in FIMRC’s El Salvador clinic in June, 2008. The MHIP is the world’s first non-monetary model of health insurance that incorporates health incentives with micro health insurance. The program is a holistic approach to meet the needs of an underserved population. Through an extensive health education program, participants earn health credits to purchase health-related products that would otherwise be unattainable due to a lack of resources.
At Project Las Delicias, we have always taken a community based approach and continue to do so. We work closely with the families in Las Delicias, Las Brisas and the surrounding areas to understand their challenges and needs and build programs around their current health situation. With the support of our volunteers, we dedicate our resources to three main areas of focus: clinical activities, health education and special initiatives. Below are a few examples of our work at Project Las Delicias.
- Treat patients of all ages (0-96)
- Support rural medical brigades in outlying communities
- Conduct community based medical visits
- Train local doctors on specialized equipment
- Conduct testing and treatment campaigns for parasitic infections
- Adolescent group workshops
- Water sanitation programs
- Prenatal programming and house visits
- Dental hygiene education
- Micro Health Insurance Program
- Water filter distribution
- Nutrition groups
- School water system improvement
At this time, we have suspended all volunteer travel to El Salvador. FIMRC is committed to the safety of our volunteers, and we do not take this commitment lightly. We evaluated all available information and decided to pause volunteer travel to El Salvador. We continuously assess the safety of the countries where we work, so we will continue to watch the safety situation and hope to send volunteers again! Stay tuned for additional updates on the volunteer program in El Salvador.
We remain committed to the community and our patients. Our clinic in Las Delicias remains open to ensure that our promise of improving health within the community continues.