WORLD HEALTH DAY: Salesian Missions highlights medical clinics, programs that ensure poor youth access to health care
(MissionNewswire) Salesian Missions joins the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international organizations in honoring World Health Day. In 1948, the WHO held the First World Health Assembly, which designated the day to mark the WHO’s founding. The first World Health Day was held in 1950, and every year since on April 7. The day is an opportunity to draw worldwide attention around a particular theme of importance related to global health each year.
This year the theme for World Health Day is “Universal health coverage: everyone, everywhere.” To mark its 70th anniversary, the WHO is calling on world leaders to live up to the pledges they made when they agreed to the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 and commit to concrete steps to advance the health of all people. This means ensuring that everyone, everywhere can access essential quality health services without facing financial hardship.
The WHO notes that at least half of the world’s population still does not have full coverage of essential health services. About 100 million people are still being pushed into extreme poverty because they have to pay for health care. WHO notes that more than 800 million people (almost 12 percent of the world’s population) spend at least 10 percent of their household budgets to pay for health care. World Health Day 2018 shines a spotlight on the need for universal health coverage and aims to inspire, motivate and guide stakeholders to make commitments toward achieving this goal.
Salesian missionaries offer more than 200 medical clinics and hospitals in mostly in rural areas around the globe, that handle a wide range of medical care needs. Leprosy, otherwise known as Hansen’s disease, has been a focus of Salesian-run medical clinics for more than 100 years. Salesian hospitals for people affected by leprosy and leprosy control programs can be found in Brazil, Colombia, India, Thailand, Macau and a number of nations in Africa. HIV/AIDS prevention programs are also a vital component of Salesian healthcare initiatives in Africa. In many countries with Salesian programs, dental and other necessary health services are offered.
“The work of Salesian missionaries around the globe goes beyond education,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “We aim to serve the whole person by making sure that basic needs like health and nutrition are met in addition to other social service needs. Medical and dental clinics ensure that those who are living in poverty still have access to the medical care they need even when they cannot afford to pay for it.”
On World Health Day 2018, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight medical and health programs that aim to provide critical services to those living in poverty.
In 2002, in the village of Abobo in western Ethiopia, a group of Italian and Spanish volunteers set up a local health clinic in collaboration with local Salesian missionaries. Today, the Abobo Health Center is the symbol of the community and provides health services for the more than 4,000 local villagers. Having expanded its reach over the years, the health clinic also serves the approximately 20,000 people living in the area and the 200,000 people in the entire region.
Two Spanish physicians, Tere and Maria, are the soul of the health center and aim to provide medical care for those who are affected by malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and various infections common in the region. Thanks to their passion and care, the clinic also has a special focus on maternal and child care, two of the most at-risk populations in the country.
Together they are engaged in providing wellness exams and regular screenings for pregnant women, as well as vaccinations to mothers during pregnancy. Tere and Maria are also focused on preventative care and routinely provide medical care to pregnant women to prevent diseases such as such as anemia, hypertension, malaria and various infections that also cause serious consequences to the newborn child. They provide an average of 40 maternal vaccinations per week and attend to 30 births per month.
In response to the overwhelming need for HIV/AIDS care in India, Salesian missionaries opened the Don Bosco Care Home in the village of Nilavarapatti, located in the district of Salem in Tamil Nadu, in August 2011. The Salesian-run program provides care and assistance for 62 boys ages 7 to 21 who are living with HIV. Salesian Father Daniel Sebastian, the director of Don Bosco Care Home, has developed the program with a holistic approach.
At Don Bosco Care Home, the boys receive counseling, recreation opportunities, medical observation and critical antiretroviral therapy treatments (ART). Some of the boys live at the home and have access to services and educational programs there while others, including those who attend the local polytechnic college, have access to the program’s ART treatments and then return to their own homes.
The program has been particularly effective because youth are able to study and build peer relationships in a safe and supportive environment, free from the stigma and rejection they previously encountered. In addition to their school studies, boys take care of the animals and birds at the facility and work the land cultivating fruits and vegetables. They also participate in sports each day. Special programs are also provided including comedy, singing and dancing, which the boys participate in with enthusiasm.
Salesian missionaries held a medical clinic for people living in Anisakan, a remote village in Myanmar. Korean members of the Members of Global Union medical team visited the village for the second time to provide medical care to the residents. The Salesian-run Domenic Savio Hall of Nazareth Seminary was transformed into a medical clinic and operating area where doctors and dentists were able to see patients.
Many poor residents in the village have nowhere else to turn for regular health care. The medical clinic was set up to provide much needed medical services including wellness exams for men and women and pediatric exams. More than 2,000 patients who suffer from various kinds of illness were able to access medical care. Patients were given medication, some for up to six months, all free of charge. Doctors also performed minor surgery. In addition, dentists were available to provide care for patients, many of whom had never had a dental visit in their life.
Salesian missionaries with the Don Bosco Foundation of Peru recently launched a free medical, surgical and dentistry clinic in the cities of Pucallpa and Ucayali in the Amazonian rainforest. The initiative was made possible by the support of ULYSSES, a humanitarian organization providing professional medical assistance, the Lions Club of Pucallpa, the Amazon Hospital of Yarinacocha, the Salesian Congregation of Peru, Stella Maris Clinic and the Food Bank.
Eighty surgeries were performed during the medical clinic and 35 children and young adults received free dental examinations. Dentists also provided free oral health education. During the presentations, students also received free toothbrushes and toothpaste. Since 2005, Salesian missionaries have been offering similar medical clinics in Peru to improve the quality of life for people.