Medical Brigades Benefit Honduran Communities
By Kay Valle/Diálogo August 01, 2018Humanitarian brigades of the Honduran Armed Forces, in cooperation with the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), provided free health services to western and central Honduran communities. The assistance campaigns, conducted June 2–July 5, 2018, provided medical care, social services, and supplies to more than 50,000 people.
Hundreds of service members of the Armed Forces, including medical and military personal, took part in the campaign along with 30 CBN volunteers. CBN’s mobile clinic visited the departments of Copán, Ocotepeque, Lempira, Intibucá, Comayagua, Francisco Morazán, Valle, and Paraíso, and stopped over in many communities.
“A total of 20 brigades deployed in the country,” Honduran Army Colonel Jayme Argueta, chief of Policy of the Armed Forces’ Directorate of Plans, Policies, Programs, and Civil Affairs, told Diálogo. “Members of CBN, the Armed Forces, and civil volunteers took part in each campaign.”
In each community, adults, children, and senior citizens formed long lines early in the morning to be seen by general practitioners, pediatricians, dermatologists, ophthalmologists, dentists, and other health professionals. In addition to preventive services and treatments, brigades distributed medicine and supplies, such as food, hygiene kits, clothes, and other items.
The brigades provide vital relief to people in rural and remote communities who suffer from a lack of health services and resources. Neither the long trip to the brigades nor the long lines discouraged villagers, who on occasion ventured from one brigade to another.
Such was the case of Luis Alberto Álvarez Rodas, who waited since 6 a.m. on June 22nd to be treated for diabetes and hypertension at the brigade in the Kennedy neighborhood of Tegucigalpa. Two days later, the 55-year-old man would travel to the Honduran Air Force Central Complex, also in Tegucigalpa, for another consultation.
“I’m coming today for a checkup for my diseases,” Álvarez told Diálogo. “For a poor person like me, the services of the brigade really help. I’ll visit another brigade at the Air Force to get my eyesight checked.”
In addition to medical services, the campaign offered legal consultations, beauty services such as haircuts and dyes, and spiritual guidance by CBN. Children enjoyed games, bounce houses, and other leisure activities, turning the events into festivities.
Vilma Pérez, mother of a 6-year-old girl, traveled to the brigade at the Kennedy neighborhood to receive dental care. For Pérez, the care of the dentistry team and the festive atmosphere were a blessing.
“I don’t have enough financial means, so I can’t go to a private clinic,” Pérez told Diálogo. “Thank God for the brigades.”
As part of the support, the Armed Forces fumigated communities and visited and treated the water with chemicals to control mosquito-borne plagues. Some communities, such as the municipality of Jesús de Otoro, department of Intibucá, also received help from the Armed Forces’ First Engineers Battalion, who repaired 15 kilometers of roads.
“With the medical caravan, CBN joins the institutional efforts of the Armed Forces,” Honduran Naval Force Captain José Domingo Meza, director of Public Affairs for the Armed Forces, told Diálogo. “They support the population by providing assistance with a modern medical clinic, advanced technology, and medicine, while the Armed Forces provide logistics support and medical personnel.”
The brigades served a total of 56,906 people, said Col. Argueta. “In one month we assisted more people than planned,” he added.
The assistance campaign was conducted under the framework of an agreement in early April 2018 between the Honduran Armed Forces and CBN. The U.S. broadcasting and production company sponsors medical assistance services in rural areas around the world. The goal is to provide basic health services, medical supplies, and training in health matters.
“We’ve been working on this agreement for a long time to see how we can help more through an institution as big as CBN,” Honduran Defense Minister Fredy Santiago Díaz Zelaya said. “[The goal is] to put into practice the knowledge they have and especially the resources […] to continue supporting Honduras just as the Armed Forces know how to.”
In addition to CBN-assisted brigades, the Armed Forces expect to conduct more than 150 medical brigades in 2018. “This partnership was beneficial not only for the medical care provided, but also the strengthening of moral and spiritual values, which is in line with the goals of the Armed Forces’ social outreach projects,” Capt. Meza concluded.