Health Care in Developing Nations

Healthcare in El Salvador I: Major Illnesses

This week, I will be doing a five part report on what I have learned from my eight-day community service trip to El Salvador. The trip was organized by the non-profit AJWS and was led by employees of the Salvadoran non-profits La Coordinadora del Bajo Lempa and the Foundation for Self Sufficiency in Central America (FSSCA). The majority of the time I was located in the rural town of Ciudad Romero in the Usulatan department, but I did visit other towns as well as the capital of San Salvador. In the course of the week, I was able to speak with a variety individuals: a doctor at a local clinic, community leaders from the villages of Ciudad Romero and Isla de Mendez, a student from the Universidad Centroamericana, workers at various non-profits, and many Salvadoran families.

The major healthcare issues for rural Salvadorans for which they seek medical treatment are the following:

  • Childbirth
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Injuries from Accidents (eg: lacerations, broken bones, etc.)
  • Parasites
  • Asthma Attacks

Basic immunizations are widely available to all citizens free of charge. Access to doctors in urban areas is relatively easy, but expect to spend a large amount of time in the waiting room. For rural citizens, one may have to travel up to an hour to reach a nearby clinic and hospitals are often more than an hour away due to the poor state of most roads. For instance, to drive from Ciudad Romero to the nearest hospital took a little over two hours. In a larger country, the problem of transportation from rural areas to hospitals would be even more prevalent than in the case of the small country of El Salvador.

Below is the Schedule for the rest of the week’s posts:

  • Tuesday: (Part II) Water
  • Wednesday: (Part III) Sanitation
  • Thursday: (Part IV) The Salvadoran Healthcare System
  • Friday: (Part V) Government, History, and Service Procurement