10 April 2014

Honduras Health Centers: Atima

Health Center of Atima
Atima seemed like a very progressive city. The treatment plant was built in 2012 and had an effluent water turbidity of about 0.2 NTU. That’s a pretty big step considering just over a year ago, they didn’t have a water treatment system.

Carmen Mendoza who has worked at the Atima Health center for two months spoke to us about changes in health since the treatment plant was built. They’re trying a new “decentralized” health model that aims to prevent unhealthy practices rather than simply treating the symptoms. The model also targets children under age 5, pregnant women and women who have recently given birth. I think it’s great that they’re trying to educate people about the importance of clean water. (Before going to Honduras, I hadn’t even realized what an issue this was!) They’re also building a new maternity ward that should be finished in March and they will hire new doctors for this.

The health center at Atima also treats water for surrounding villages, which is where most of the diarrhea cases come from for a variety of reasons, among them being the fact that the people in the villages haven’t followed health advice and to them clear water is clean water. It must be pretty frustrating to understand how important it is to have clean water, and to tell others about it, only to have them ignore you.

Within the first six months of 2012, there were 250 cases of diarrhea (so a projected yearly number of 500 cases), and in 2013 there were a total of 405 cases. Hopefully it’s not just coincidence that there was a decrease of almost 20% in the cases of diarrhea, but we would need more data to see if this trend continues.

There are probably a number of reasons that there wasn’t a greater change in the number of diarrhea cases. Even if people are getting clean water, they could be practicing unhygienic habits which can also make them ill. Also turbid water is not the only reason people get diarrhea. But even a small change is better than no change!

To be honest, I was really impressed with Atima. The treatment plant was obviously well run, and they are taking great strides towards improving health education. It’s crazy to think that just over a year ago, they didn’t even have a treatment plant and now they probably have some of the cleanest water in Honduras.

- Felice Chan

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