More than one third of Salvadorans live below the poverty level, with over 50% of the population estimated to be unemployed. Rural communities suffer poor living conditions and a lack of extensive public health care. Water pollution and contaminated soils from toxic waste disposal continue to be a problem.
In November 2003, AmeriCares opened its first international family health clinic, La Clínica Integral de Atención Familiar, in Santiago de María, El Salvador. The clinic provides high quality, multidisciplinary health care services to the underserved families throughout the many regions of El Salvador. It operates using the basic precepts of primary health care: Promotion, Prevention, Healing and Rehabilitation.
In 2011, the clinic provided nearly 110,000 services to approximately 50, 000 patient visits. When it first opened, the clinic treated 66 patients per month. Today, as a full-service clinic for all ages, it treats an average of about 4,000 individual patients each month.
The 10,000-square-foot facility is equipped with modern medical equipment. The clinic supplements a secondary level hospital and a health clinic in the same region of El Salvador as well.
La Clínica Integral de Atención Familiar – AmeriCares, is staffed by a dedicated group of local doctors, dentists, a psychologist, registered nurses and licensed technicians who provide a number of comprehensive Health Care Services, including:
General Medicine, Pediatrics, Gynecology, Obstetrics, Dentistry, Internal Medicine, Psychology, Nutrition, Physiotherapy, Mamography, X-Ray Services, Ultrasound, Electrocardiograms, Audiometry, Clinical Laboratory Testing, Respiratory Therapy, Bone Density Screening, Minor Surgery as well as Pharmacy Services.
The clinic recently added Dermatology and Pulmonology to its growing list of medical specialties; and the final details are near completion for a new Visual Health Clinic that will be staffed by an Ophthalmologist, Optometrist and Optician. This new capability will provide patients with complete eye care services every day that the clinic is open as well as the opportunity to purchase their glasses at the clinic at a more affordable price.
Community Health Education
The majority of the health problems facing the community served by the clinic can often be attributed to conditional environmental factors, human behaviors and social determinants of health. Therefore the clinic offers regular health education programs to individuals who seek treatment from the clinic as well as within the surrounding community. Educational outreach is a critical component of primary health care, strengthening disease prevention in the communities served by the clinic.
The clinic conducts educational activities based on health promotion and prevention, covering over 30 various topics. In the last three years, these programs have been attended at the clinic by nearly 30,000 individuals in total.
In addition to programs offered onsite, clinic staff provided services in the community at local health fairs and visits to local schools. Topics have included oral hygiene, breast feeding, and a disease prevention initiative to help diabetics learn how to manage their condition. Additionally, the staff has introduced courses on challenges facing adolescents and countering domestic violence. As a result of these community programs in the past three years, nearly 25,000 individuals have been taught about how to lead healthier, happier lives.
Some of the health topics that are covered through the clinic´s health education efforts include: Hypertension, Diabetes, Osteoporosis, Mental Health, Prenatal Care, Visual Health, Oral Health, Nutrition, Breastfeeding, Hygiene, as well as Prevention of Respiratory, Diarrheal, Communicable and Chronic Diseases.
The Clinic opened under an agreement between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and AmeriCares as part of USAID’s Earthquake Recovery Program. Under this agreement, the clinic was jointly funded by both organizations through September 30, 2004. AmeriCares now assumes all operating responsibility for the clinic. The clinic is supported through donations from individuals, corporations and foundations in El Salvador and the United States.