Why are we there?
- Armed conflict
- Social violence
- Healthcare exclusion
- Endemic/epidemic disease
- Honduras: An epidemic of urban violence in Tegucigalpa
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In Honduras’s capital Tegucigalpa, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is developing a programme to improve medical assistance for people affected by violence.
Violence in Tegucigalpa
Drug trafficking, clashes between gangs and legal access to guns have made violence commonplace in Honduras.
An MSF survey carried out at the end of 2010 found that nearly 59 per cent of under-18s living on the streets of Tegucigalpa had experienced physical violence within the past year, while 45 per cent reported that they had been victims of sexual violence.
MSF has set up mobile teams, made up of a social worker, psychologist, doctor and nurse, who visit 20 sites around the city each week – perhaps a public square or street corner – providing on-the-spot healthcare where they can, or referring people in need of more advanced or complex treatment to Ministry of Health facilities.
The team conducted 1,860 consultations in 2011. As the year progressed, there were signs that the programme was beginning to influence behaviour and encouraging more people to seek medical treatment.
In March, 19 per cent of street-based patients referred to a health centre by MSF actually went. By December, the number had risen to nearly 26 per cent.
Treating sexual violence
MSF also assists victims of sexual violence in four health centres in some of the most violent areas of Tegucigalpa.
A team of one nurse and one psychologist provides psychological and medical care to patients and trains Ministry of Health staff.
Since February, MSF has been actively participating in the elaboration of a national protocol for the treatment of victims of sexual violence, helping to draw up the medical content.
MSF is also advocating that sexual violence be considered a public health emergency.
At the end of 2011, MSF had 22 staff in Honduras. MSF has been working in the country since 1974.
Catherina*: 25 years old
“I was raped when I was 17 years old. I became pregnant, and my family rejected me. I ran away and ended up in Tegucigalpa, where I became a prostitute to earn a living for my son and myself.
"I was full of resentment against people, I felt disoriented, I couldn’t talk to anyone and I didn’t trust anyone any more. When Eva [MSF worker] sent me to a psychologist, I was very anxious, as I had many problems.
"However, since then, I feel less anger - when the psychologist listens to me, I cry out of relief. I feel that there are people who will listen and help me.”
* The patient’s name has been changed.