DEVELOPMENT REPORT - Health Care for Distant Villages

By Marilyn Christiano

This is the VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT.

Providing medical care for people who live far from cities is a problem in many areas of the world. They are too far away to be served by the hospitals, doctors and drugs of modern medicine.

This is especially true of native people who live in small villages that are difficult to reach.

In the past, each tribal village had its own medical experts who knew the local plants that had been used as medicines for years. These medicine men and women knew natural methods of treating diseases and injuries. In recent years, however, many of the native healers have died and their knowledge has died with them.

Efforts are being made in many areas to provide medical services to far away tribal villages. One way to do this is to send teams of doctors and nurses at different times during the year to provide medical care. Yet this does not provide any long-term health care.

So some organizations are training local people to improve the health of native groups who are far from modern medical centers. For example, an organization called the Medical Mission Sisters works with local people in twenty nations around the world. Anna Dengel began the group seventy-five years ago in Washington, D. C. Its goal is to provide medical care to the poor, especially women and children. The Roman Catholic religious workers are trained as doctors and nurses.

Sister Isabel Harmon has been a Medical Mission Sister for fifty years. Many of those years she spent in Africa, mainly in Ghana. For the past eight years, she has lived in Oaxaca, Mexico. There she works with the Health Promoters Training Program. It trains about forty students at a time who come from villages in the mountains that surround the city of Oaxaca.

The students are men and women who live in the villages. They are taught ways to prevent sickness caused by poor housing and a lack of pure water and a balanced diet. They also are taught traditional healing methods to treat common sicknesses. Then they go back to their villages to provide health care and to teach others what they have learned.

Sister Isabel and the nurses and doctors she works with travel often to the villages to continue the training. Next week we will tell more about this training.

This VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT was written by Marilyn Christiano.

Voice of America Special English