Volunteers In Medical Missions

Village Health Worker Program Update
Prepared by Gary Goforth MD
Olanchito, Honduras
October 2013


The Village Health Worker (VHW) program for the Olanchito, Honduras area was initially developed in the mid 2000’s by VIMM team members Gary Goforth and Jack Gardner when we sought a way to improve infrastructure in communities served by VIMM teams. At the suggestion of Jack Gardner, the VIMM Board of Directors approved a motion requiring each VIMM team to improve the infrastructure of a community in some manner during each trip. We discussed the idea with Pastor Victor Gomez who agreed that the VHW program would be a great benefit to remote communities in the Olanchito area. Dick and Cindy Watson, founders of the Dick and Lucretia Watson Foundation, had implemented the VHW program in Nicaragua with great success and were willing to provide medicines for our village health worker program if each community elected a VHW, requirements were met for storing and dispensing the medicines, and reports were filed in a timely manner. When Gary Goforth was heading to Afghanistan in 2008, Jack Gardner accepted responsibility for this program and personally travelled to Honduras multiple times and made generous contributions to support this program. A training program for the VHW’s was developed (1 week) and conducted by Dr. Gonzalez at the Iris Merrell Clinic in Olanchito. Pastor Victor identified communities needing VHWs, and those communities were involved in the selection of the VHW serving their communities.

Current status

We now have 3 VHW’s serving multiple communities near Olanchito, Honduras. Dr. Gonzalez serves as the trainer and liaison between the VHW’s and the Iris Merrell Clinic and Olanchito Hospital. Each VHW has a cell phone used to contact Dr. Gonzalez when assistance is needed with patient care or a patient needs to be transferred to Olanchito. The VHW’s (Antonio Palacios, Nora Melgar, and Zoraida Martinez) typically see 35-50 patients each month and charge each patient 5 lempiras per visit (25 cents). Teams visiting the Olanchito area have involved the VHW’s in our clinics to provide training and evaluate their clinical skills. Larry Secrest and Dr. Mark VanSwol have travelled to Honduras to work specifically with the VHW’s and provide water filters (and training) to many homes in those villages. Medicines are now ordered periodically and paid for by the Dick and Lucretia Watson Foundation. We continue to have some difficulty getting these medicines through the Honduras Customs and to the ultimate destination. During the March 2013 trip to Olanchito, Gary Goforth and Jack Gardner did check on the medicine supplies and found an excess of some medicines (albuterol for asthma), but very few antibiotics. Dr. VanSwol worked with a resident in the Self Regional Healthcare Family Medicine Residency Program to develop a training manual for the VHW’s that has now been published and utilized in training the VHW’s. The VHW Committee approved a plan in September 2013 to purchase closets to store medicines for each VHW in their homes so they did not have to travel to another location to obtain medicines and were more readily available to serve villagers living in their community. Larry Secrest and Pastor Victor attended a conference for Honduras government leaders and NGO leaders on September 25-28 at the Hotel Plaza Magdalena and were able to share information about the VHW program and learn a great deal about working as a NGO in Honduras.

ECONOMIC REPORT (to September 30, 2013 )

Previous balance $1,229.34
1. Brother Antonio Palacios: 37 consultations at L5.00 each = Lps 185.00
2. Sister Nora Melgar: 47 consultations at Lps 5.00 = Lps 235.00
3. Sister Zoraida Martinez: 42 consultations at Lps 5.00 = Lps 210.00
Money received for consultations $31.50
Total Cash on Hand $1,260.84
Expenditures (September)
1. Maria Zoraida Martinez (Payment month of September $50.00 )
2. Antonio Palacios (Payment month of September $70.00)
3. Nora Melgar ( 2 months Payment $100.00 )
The following payments correspond to the month of July as they had not been registered during that month’s payment (please refer to the report of July) and the month of September
4. Drug Entry Payment ( $75.00 )
5. Pay taxi to go to the bank ( $2.50)
Total Expenditures $297.50
Previous Balance $1,229.34
+ Income Received per visit $31.50
Total Cash on Hand $1,260.84
Expenditures $297.50
Balance end of September 2013 $963.34