Healthcare for God’s people in Nicaragua
The Bless Back Worldwide Medical Clinic at Los Rayos de Esperanza will serve the southwest region of Nicaragua known as Pueblos Blancos (White Villages). They are known as the Pueblos Blancos because of the original white color of their churches. It is an area consisting of approximately 23 small villages and towns, with a population of approximately 250,000 people.
This region of Nicaragua has an 80% unemployment/underemployment rate with an annual tax base of $2.15/person. Although the current government is attempting to make healthcare a priority, the nation has little money and public health care is grossly inadequate.
Public doctors lack needed medicines and resources (including surgical needs and specialized education). Nicaraguans can’t afford to buy their families needed medicines, lab work and surgical procedures. If they are fortunate enough to be employed, one medical treatment may still cost 1 to 4 days worth of wages or more, which means money they will lack for basics such as food.
A nations infant mortality rate is representative of the health of that nation. In Nicaragua the infant mortality rate exceeds 30 per 1,000 live births (compared to 7 per 1,000 live births in the U.S.).
It is an understatement to say that medical personnel are needed in Nicaragua. In Nicaragua, there is one doctor for every 2,500 people and one dentist for every 10,000 people. Compare that to the USA, where there is one doctor for every 400 people and one dentist for every 2,000 people.
The total annual health expenditure is $254.00 per capita (according to the World Health Organization), with the public health expenditure only able to cover approximately 20% of health care costs. With the gross national income per capita at only $2,140.00, people are left spending much of their meager earnings in health care. People living on $2.00 or less a day cannot provide for their own health care; it simply costs too much.
While we strongly believe that the Nicaraguan people need to contribute to their own health care, we recognize that for most families to pay for the care and medicine they need, they would have to choose to give up money needed to eat. We desire to work with each family where they are. We will require that they contribute in whatever way is feasible for them. This may be monetary (for example, they may be required to pay 25 cordobas for a doctor visit (equivalent to about $1.05). If they cannot afford that, they may be required to give ½ day labor to the local church or community. For this amount they will receive a medical consultation, any medicine prescribed at the clinic’s pharmacy, and a follow-up visit that the illness may require.
What will the clinic do?
BBW volunteer medical teams will travel to Nicaragua 4X per year. The teams will host clinics both on-site and off-site in extremely impoverished areas. Depending on the make up of each team, the clinic will provide:
- General medical check–ups and medical care for those with illness
- Dental check-ups and dental care
- Eye check-ups and eye care
- Pre-natal check-ups and pre-natal care
- Sick and well baby visits
- Wound care
- Health Education Workshops
In addition, the medical clinic will:
- Have a stocked pharmacy and offer free or low cost medicines
- Maintain charts on all patients
- Offer educational workshops on important topics in health, wellness and nutrition
- Provide Biblically based classes in abstinence
- Provide permanent storage for costly and bulky equipment that the short-teams need so that they do not have to be hauled back and forth with each team
- A full time, on-site, Nicaraguan doctor at the clinic with regular office hours
- An operating room to perform minor surgeries
- Overnight care for those needing to be watched and cared for
- A dentist office and part time or full time dentist
- A full time or part time counselor / social worker / community health promoter and educator