Key medical figures:
• 1,500 individual and group mental health consultations
• 720 people treated after incidents of sexual violence
The public healthcare system in Honduras cannot keep pace with victims of violence, leaving the most vulnerable people deprived of much-needed services.
Survivors of criminal violence in Honduras rarely seek medical or psychological help, fearful of their aggressors and deterred by the many barriers to healthcare. There are frequent shortages of skilled personnel and supplies at public hospitals and clinics, and health staff are reluctant to treat victims of violence for fear of repercussions.
Aiming to improve access to emergency medical care, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continued to run a comprehensive programme offering quality treatment and follow-up to victims of violence in the capital city of Tegucigalpa. Teams worked to increase vulnerable people’s access to emergency healthcare for trauma, medical emergencies, sexual violence and mental healthcare for victims of violence.
The emergency room of the university hospital Escuela, the main public hospital in the country, is always extremely busy, seeing some 260 patients per day. MSF helped reorganise services and is working on improving emergency management to better deal with large influxes of patients and to reduce chances of death or permanent disability arising from inadequate trauma care. A large street-based population, consisting of homeless people and people who work informally, such as street sellers and sex workers, are hyper-exposed to violence and are excluded from the health system. Mobile teams consisting of a social worker, a psychologist and a clinician visited 25 sites around the city each week in 2013, identifying inhabitants’ medical, psychological and social needs. The teams provided on-the-spot first aid, preventive care and mental health support. More than 1,040 victims of violence, including 725 victims of sexual violence, were identified and treated across four MSF-supported health clinics.
There is no national protocol for the treatment of victims of sexual violence in Honduras and this means that victims do not have access to adequate medical care. MSF is part of a Ministry of Health committee working to develop national health guidelines for the treatment and care of victims.
In San Pedro Sula, the country’s second city, MSF responded to an epidemic of dengue haemorrhagic fever and treated more than 600 children in the paediatric ward of Mario Catarino hospital between August and November 2013. MSF also donated drugs and medical supplies to the hospital for the treatment of adults affected by dengue.
No. staff end 2013: 57 | Year MSF first worked in the country: 1974