With medical supplies and living essentials in tow, 50 UCSB students will travel to Honduras for a week this summer to help treat the Central American nation’s poorest denizens.
The students will be working as a part of the Global Medical Network to set up temporary medical clinics throughout the country’s rural areas. Once into the Honduran countryside, members of the UCSB chapter of GMN will work with eight California doctors to treat patients unable to receive adequate or affordable medical care elsewhere.
Ashley Alker, president of the UCSB chapter of GMN, said this summer’s eight-day trip to Honduras is particularly vital due to the shortage of medical resources and the dire economic circumstances plaguing the nation.
“Honduras is the poorest country in Central America,” Alker, a fourth-year biology major, said. “They really need our help, especially in these rural areas.”
Leo Ramsey, vice president of the UCSB chapter and a second-year biology major, said the demand for treatment in rural villages is high, and ailing individuals wait hours to see the staff.
“You have to wait in line for a really long time to get treatment – so by the time you get treatment, you could be dead,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey said the team treats between 150 and 600 patients every day, and that, by the time the group is done in Honduras, anywhere from 1,500 to 3,000 individuals will have passed through the clinic’s doors.
According to Alker, volunteers will treat patients with afflictions varying from arthritis to parasites, and students will also provide prenatal care. Last year, Alker said medical procedures performed included the extraction of a cockroach from a girl’s ear.
“Clinics run from 7 or 8 in the morning until 6 at night and people line up for like a mile,” Alker said. “Last year, someone walked for an entire day to get to a clinic in the village we were at.”
Since student and doctor volunteers must personally fund trip expenses, as well as the cost of medical supplies, the organization will be hosting a benefit fundraiser at Q’s Billiard Club downtown on June 2 to generate money for its cause. Bill’s Bus will provide transportation to and from the event and tickets are currently available at the A.S. Ticket Office for $10 or for $15 at the door.
Alker said a small portion of the proceeds raised at the event would go to towards the construction of permanent clinics in rural villages.
“[Permanent clinics] are the first step to a solution to chronic medical problems that need more attention than can be given by us in seven days,” Alker said.
Third-year biology major Sarah Bridge said the upcoming fundraiser is a good way for program members to bolster support for their mission in Honduras.
“The money goes to a really good cause and it is a really fun night,” Bridge said. “It’s cool when you can get a lot of people to start thinking globally and care about what is going on outside of their little Santa Barbara bubble.”