The initial impetus for the formation of Honduran Health Alliance (HHA) stems from UNC student-
conducted research in the mountainous provinces of El Corpus and Concepcion de Maria.
Before HHA became involved, the health care needs of these villages were served by lay health workers and nurses who receive minimal training, but who were able to distribute contraception and antibiotics. For more involved clinical care, villagers had to travel up to 50 miles to the nearby town of Choluteca, or rely on traditional or herbal methods. Through individual interviews and focus groups designed to explore unmet needs, it became clear to the initial UNC student researchers that community members desired more complete health information, especially about reproductive health issues. Community women and United Communities (UC) board members alike were drawn to the idea of a sustainable community-driven project that could bring much needed education and health care services to their communities.
Since the inception of the Alliance in 2002, HHA has evolved into an annual health intervention project that began in 2004. In July, 2004, 10 medical students and 2 physicians spent the month of July working to improve the reproductive health literacy of these communities while also beginning clinical services. In July of 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, students and physicians returned to these same communities to offer more educational workshops and preventative clinical services.
Unfortunately, the 2009 trip was interrupted by political unrest in Honduras and the group had to leave the country before clinic week. However, there were thankfully no such setbacks for the July 2010 trip, making it the seventh year of intervention. The program has continued to expand its reach and meet with great success in recent years. For more about the 2012 trip, check out our blog at www.honduranhealthalliance.blogspot.com !
As our relationship with and understanding of the communities evolve, we are faced with new challenges and new tasks. In July 2007, we began a pilot program to evaluate and treat hypertension in women in our clinic population. In the spring of 2008, we conducted focus groups to evaluate the desire for HIV testing at our clinic. In the summer of 2008, we held a pilot program on domestic violence with health promoters from each of the six communities that was piloted to all women in the communities in July of 2010. Also in 2010, we began a pilot program for the use of Unaided Visual Inspection as a screening tool for cervical cancer to employ in the HHA clinic in the future. Most recently, in 2012 we initiated a research project to investigate the cultural and physical barriers to access to contraceptives.
Rachel Adams, Claire Kendig, and Rachel Northeim spell out HHA while working at clinic