By Stephen Vodhanel, PhD
Under the direction and leadership of Associate Professor Stephen Dunbar, PhD, Department of Earth and Biological Sciences, Students for International Mission Service (SIMS) opens tremendous medical mission opportunities for School of Pharmacy students at El Venado, Honduras.
El Venado, Honduras, lies on the southern tip of Honduras facing the Pacific Ocean. The community is one of the desperately poor areas of Honduras, with several hundred residents. Medical needs are typical of any poor developing nation and provides mission-learning opportunities across all LLU schools.
Pharmacy students would be expected to experience a variety of medical aliments in a country where health services are not readily available to the poor. According to the World Health Organization, infectious and parasitic diseases are the leading causes of death. Gastroenteritis and tuberculosis are serious problems. Diseases such as influenza, malaria, typhoid, and pneumonia, once believed to be under control, have returned in force because of a lack of preventive measures. Due to a poor diet high in carbohydrates, many of the residents of El Venado have blood-sugar levels exceeding 400 mg/dl. Skin aliments are common.
Any trip to El Venado is highlighted with the turtle research of Dr. Dunbar. Classified as "Vulnerable" according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the Olive Ridley comes ashore during the months of August through November, offering a chance in a life time to see the amazing egg-laying process of the turtles.
A trip to El Venado is also one of the most convenient SIMS trips with a short flight to Honduras. In a matter of half a day, one can be offering medical services to the poor and on the shore looking for turtles.
For information regarding SIMS trips click here.
To view a video of the 2012 SIMS Honduras trip by Carl Canwell click here.
Dr. Stephen Dunbar (pointing) with community member and tortuguero Nerys Zelaya, observe an Olive Ridley sea turtle, El Venado, Honduras.