Dengue Epidemic in Olancho, Honduras is Targeting Children
Hospital San Francisco Medical Staff Calling for International Help – “Good evening, from our town of Juticalpa in the state of Olancho in Honduras. This is the medical team from the Hospital San Francisco in Juticalpa. We are asking for solidarity and international support from the medical community. We are currently in a state of emergency, specifically in the area of pediatrics. Our hospital is beyond capacity as we are receiving a rising number of children affected by dengue fever, or a streak of it, as we are not exactly sure what type of infection this is. We only know that a large number of patients continue to arrive for treatment with children being the most severely affected. We do not have enough doctors to care for the large number of patients, sick children and their families continue to pour in from all corners of Olancho to seek treatment. On behalf of our hospital, if there are any organizations, any doctors willing to come and help us, we need you. At this time, we are only treating patients affected by dengue fever.
“On behalf of our hospital, if there are any organizations, any doctors willing to come and help us, we need you.”
Medical Staff, Hospital San Francisco
The children who are coming in with other pathologies, unfortunately, are not being treated as we do not have enough doctors. Our capital, Tegucigalpa, has recently sent 3 voluntary doctors but even with their help, we do not have enough medical staff to attend the great demand. Please, if an international medical organization can come and help us, the time is now. The rains are about to begin which will make this pandemic much more acute. Please, we need international support.”
Currently, Honduras is in a state of red alert. The department of Olancho, one of the largest in Honduras, is in mourning. The dengue fever is killing the children. The affected youth experience symptoms like pain in the body, behind the eyes, vomiting, and diarrhea. The parents are rushing them to the local hospital, Hospital San Francisco, in Juticalpa, Olancho, but “our hospital is understaffed and under-supplied to confront this new type of dengue,” reports Maria Torres, a community resident and church volunteer in Juticalpa.
Maria is a member of the church, Iglesia Bautista Cristo te Ama, led by pastor, Jairo Vasquez, who has taken a leading role in organizing community clean ups to stop the spread of dengue, and neighborhood hospital visits in solidarity with patients. Pastor Vasquez has also been meeting with hospital leadership to assess needs and find help.
The last few weeks have brutally affected Olancho.
“The older generation appears to be immune, because we suffered through dengue over a decade ago. Our children are incredibly vulnerable. In this time of crisis we have nowhere to turn but to each other, to God and to the media,” tells Torres.
Dr. Lesbia Sandoval has identified critical medical needs:
“We are operating in a state of emergency. We need the type of special stretchers that have suspension and guardrails for the emergency treatments. We need at least ten stretchers and we need epoxy curtains or hospital curtains for the emergency room. These are antibacterial curtains that help prevent contamination among patients. To combat the current emergency that we face from dengue fever, we also need repellents. When patients and their families arrive at the hospital, we apply repellent on them to avoid contagions. Also, the pediatric patients who are hospitalized need diapers. Unfortunately, our hospitals do not carry diapers and most of our patients who are low income, arrive with many needs. Diaper donations would help, too.”
“We are a humble, yet tight-knit community, and we are leaning on each other to do what we can to sanitize our towns and to comfort the parents at the hospital. We are turning to the media to bring our testimonies to the open. We hope it will help us connect with doctors and nonprofits with the knowledge to treat dengue,” adds Torres.
In the community of Juticalpa, in Olancho, parents bring their sick to the Hospital San Francisco. Here, community members organized by grassroots leaders and the church, Iglesia Bautista Cristo te Ama, led by pastor Jairo Vasquez, among other churches, mobilize neighbors to comfort the children who are struck by the disease.
“The Hospital San Francisco is unprepared to deal with the crisis and is in great need of doctors, nurses and medical supplies,” warns Torres. “Our most urgent needs are vitaminized serum, syringes, cotton, and medication to treat dengue related diseases. We also collecting toys for the children, hospital beds, and curtains for the hospitals and food for the families.”
The government promotes sanitizing campaigns, but community members tell Latina Republic that medical staff and supplies have not arrived and may not come. Pharmacies are running out of medicine and hospitals, like the Hospital San Francisco, are in critical need of supplies. To fill the void, the community has come together to collect gloves, repellent and cook meals for the sick.
To crack down on the environmental conditions that spread dengue, the youth have taken up the collection of garbage in abandoned lots, and are helping neighbors empty water containers filled with dirty water where larva grow. Some military members have stopped by the town, fumigated a few homes and moved on. The community has taken over responsibilities, cleaning in teams, burning trash, cleaning water storages, trimming grass, visiting the sick, collecting supplies and praying with the families in distress.
“We do not want any more Honduran brothers and sisters to die, so as a Church we have been doing what we can,” adds Torres.
“Our children are the most defenseless, the most vulnerable to the circumstances that we are experiencing as a country,” adds Maria Torres. “The government and the department of health circulate statistics and tips. But where are the supplies and the doctors?”
“Unfortunately, our local pharmacies in Juticalpa are running out of medicines,” adds Torres. “The government promotes anti-dengue ads but what we need is medicine and doctors. The people of Olancho are carrying out the work.”
The Hospital San Francisco de Juticalpa, Olancho needs urgent help.
Health campaigns tell residents to use repellents. But what happens when they cannot afford them? “Parents in our community want to prevent the mosquitoes from spreading and from infecting their children. The problem is that some parents cannot afford repellents. Those who have the means, spray their children before sending them to school. The poorest families can only pray and take their chances by sending their children out to school,” explains Maria.
At the structural level what contributes to the problem is how water is accessed and stored. The water company supplies Olancho with potable water twice a week. The community stores the water in indoor pools and buckets where the water sits.
The road system contributes to the problem. There are lots of empty lots with overgrown fields and potholes where the water stagnates. In the heat, these potholes create breeding grounds. Larvae also grows in garden equipment, tires, empty bottles and trash.
Joining in the awareness campaigns against dengue are the local news crews. Guayapetv maintains the neighbors informed of the latest updates, as well as community efforts to help. The news crew also posts photos of homes in need of cleaning, calling on the owners to take responsibility.
#LOÚLTIMO | Muere otra menor, presuntamente por dengue.
Una pequeña niña identificada solamente como Jimena, falleció este día mientras se le trasladaba hacia Tegucigalpa. Era originaria de Mangulile. Se contabilizan 14 víctimas mortales por dengue en Olancho. pic.twitter.com/DHtTNvdTyh
— Guayapetv Olancho (@Guayapetv) July 13, 2019
Local news Guayapetv reported yesterday, July 13th, that a very young girl, Jimena, died from Dengue complications as she was transported to the capital for treatment. She was from the department of Olancho.
— Guayapetv Olancho (@Guayapetv) July 13, 2019
Even the universities are now pitching in to help. The Catholic University has joined forces to do what they can. Two days ago, they dropped off food for patients receiving treatment in the Hospital San Francisco.
Additionally, in a show of solidarity, the mayor of Juticalpa, Dr. Huriberto Madrid is also seeing patients in the Hospital San Francisco. He is providing medical consultations alongside the doctors.
#POSITIVO | Alcalde de Juticalpa Dr. Huniberto Madrid, en un gesto de solidaridad con enfermos del dengue, se une al personal del Hospital Sa Francisco y brinda consultas médicas, ya que las salas de atan abarrotadas. pic.twitter.com/E9HOSqoJ87
— Guayapetv Olancho (@Guayapetv) July 13, 2019
The community of Juticalpa in the department of Olancho, Honduras is in urgent need of help. They welcome supplies, like vitaminized serum, syringes, cotton, gloves and medication to treat dengue-related diseases. They would also welcome donations of repellents for household or personal use, food, water, gatorade, mattresses and beds for the hospital, toys for the children and most urgently, they need medical staff, including nurses, doctors and anyone who specializes in dengue-related epidemics. If you are in a position to help, please reach out to them. They are standing united as a community, and would welcome the support.
***Update, this morning July 15th, 2019, 7:45 a.m. The line of patients affected by dengue keeps growing.
Please reach out below:
Hospital San Francisco Juticalpa, Olancho, Honduras
Director: Victor Zepeda
Assistant Director: Jose Jose Zelaya
Dra. Lesbia Sandoval, cell: 504-9949-1439