Needs We Address
Access to Health Care
The need: Health for all people
In rural Nicaragua, 33% of the population live more than 2 hours walking distance from the nearest basic health services and even farther from hospitals that offer specialized care. Those who are poor suffer more, yet use services less. An estimated 80% of the rural population of Nicaragua lives on less than $2 per day, which makes access to essential medications and healthcare even more difficult. The combination of lack of access to health care and poverty contribute to problems including high maternal and infant death rates.
Our response: Improving access to health care for poorest people of Nicaragua is the foundation of AMOS’ work. Learn more about how AMOS addresses the need for access to health care through our Community-Based Primary Health Care Model and our Patient Care Program.
The need: Health and well-being for all women
The majority of all maternal deaths occur in the developing world. These deaths can be prevented with better care for women throughout their lives, including access to family planning services, prenatal care, and deliveries with trained personnel. When mothers get the prenatal care that they need, they have their babies in the hospitals instead of at home. This means fewer children die in childbirth because hospitals are better equipped to deal with newborn health problems.
Our response: Good counseling, support, and follow-up with mothers is key in getting proper prenatal care for pregnant moms. Learn more about how AMOS addresses women’s health needs through our Community-Based Primary Health Care Model and our Community Doula Pilot Program.
Children’s HealthThe need: A world where no child dies of a preventable illness
Every day, 20,000 of the world’s poorest children die of treatable and preventable illnesses, such as diarrhea and pneumonia. Children who are poor in Nicaragua are three times more likely to die than children who are not poor. In the dispersed rural communities where AMOS works, unrelenting poverty and little access to health care place children at high risk for both death and disease. Two of the most common health problems that children face in rural Nicaragua are parasite infections and anemia, which can result growth stunting, bowel obstruction, and poor school performance.
Our response: Training rural health promoters with simple protocols for recognizing and treating common childhood illnesses such as diarrhea, pneumonia, intestinal parasites, and anemia can prevent deaths and improve the health and well-being of the poorest children. Learn more about how AMOS addresses children’s health needs through our Community-Based Primary Health Care Model and the Community Nutrition Program.
The need: To build healthier lives for youth
Young people in Nicaragua have tremendous potential to learn and grow into active members of their communities. At the same time, adolescence is a time period in which young people are faced with many difficult choices that can potentially have very negative consequences for their future. In Nicaragua, it is estimated that 50% of teens living in extreme poverty become pregnant for the first time between the ages of 15-19 (INIDE, 2005). More than one-third of young people begin smoking between the ages of 11-22 and alcohol consumption is estimated at 2.5 liters per capita (WHO, 2001). Given the fact that these behaviors can lead to further poverty, and chronic illnesses in the future, it is critical to reach adolescents at an early age.
Our response: AMOS seeks to empower youth to believe in themselves and their futures as a way to decrease alcohol use, smoking, and unintended pregnancies. We do this with a program that fosters critical thinking, collaboration skills, interpersonal skills, and knowledge about health risk and protective factors. Learn more about how AMOS addresses adolescent health needs through our Youth Empowerment Program.
Neglected Tropical Diseases
The need: To give children a chance to thrive
Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a group of 17 traditionally ignored diseases that disproportionately affect the poorest people on the continents of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Largely, they are diseases caused by parasites that flourish in tropical climates in both water sources and soil. The World Health Organization estimates that these types of diseases affect approximately 1 billion people worldwide. Despite simple, low-cost solutions, the international community has never made NTDs a top priority. In Nicaragua, one of the most common NTDs is intestinal parasite infections, also known as worms. These infections can lead to growth stunting, bowel obstruction, and anemia, seriously affecting the health of children.
Our response: Since 2007, AMOS has been working in partnership with the Nicaraguan government health program (MINSA) to decrease the rate of parasite prevalence in rural communities by providing health education, deworming children ages 2 to 12 year old twice a year, and working with communities to provide clean water and sanitation. Learn more about how AMOS addresses NTDs through our Community-Based Primary Health Care Model.
The need: To improve quality of life for all
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes – are the leading cause of death worldwide (1). And as highlighted by the 2012 World Health Statistics report of the WHO, the numbers of people affected is growing. In developing countries in particular, NCDs place an immense burden on already strained local and national health systems, which are not equipped to handle this epidemic. Based upon WHO health data from 2008, approximately 69% of all deaths in Nicaragua were a result of NCDs. About half of the NCD deaths were linked to cardiovascular disease and diabetes (2). Many of the risk factors for NCDs can be controlled by such simple measures as making diet changes and increasing the amount physical activity. Especially in the rural areas, there are limited community resources available for patients to manage their condition.
Our response: Since 2014, AMOS has been working to prevent, identify, and manage the chronic diseases that are most prevalent in the rural and urban communities that we work with. Learn more about how AMOS addresses chronic disease through our Community-Based Primary Health Care Model in rural communities and through our support groups in our urban community of Nejapa.
Water and Sanitation
The need: Clean water for all
When families drink from unclean water sources (rivers, springs, open wells) and people defecate in the open, water becomes contaminated and diarrheal diseases become endemic. Less than 20% of the population we serve in rural Nicaragua has access to safe drinking water. However, piped drinking water is not a possibility for the majority of the communities we serve because the population is so geographically dispersed.
Our response: With proper sanitation, hygiene education, simple waste management tools, and water purification technology, disease can be prevented. Point of use (POU) filters are the main option for delivering clean drinking water to homes in the communities that we work with. One of the most promising POU filters is known as the biosand filter. Learn more about how AMOS addresses the need for safe drinking water and sanitation through our Community-Based Primary Health Care Model and the Water Filter Program.
The need: Communities who can solve their most common health-related problems
Two of the greatest barriers to public health are lack of education and lack of community organization. In the poorest communities, many older adults have inherited practices that are detrimental to good health. In turn, adults pass on their learned habits to their children. The lack of a coordinated education effort within communities means that, in the absence of special effort, health conditions will not improve. Additionally, when communities are faced with health challenges or local emergencies and are not organized, it is much harder for the community to come together to develop a plan for action and seek the outside help they may need to address the situation.
Our response: Growing evidence supports community participation and empowerment as a way to achieve better health outcomes for poor and marginalized communities (1,2,3). Learn more about how AMOS addresses the need for community organization and health education through our Community-Based Primary Health Care Model.
References: 1. Wallerstein, N.(2006) Figure 2: Pathways to health. 2006.What is the evidence on effectiveness of empowerment to improve health? WHO. 2. Minkler, M. and Wallerstein, N. Ch. 2. Improving Health Through Community Organization and Community Building from Community Organization and Community Building for Health. 2nd ed. 2008. Rutgers University Press. Pg. 35 3. Howard-Grabman, L, Snetro, G. How to mobilize communities for health and social change. http://jhuccp.org/mmc/index.stm