It has been close to two years since Esperança’s last boots on the ground surgical mission in Nicaragua. Due to an unstable sociopolitical climate, we stopped sending United States volunteer-led teams. Fortunately, some good did come from these events. Esperança’s local partner, AVODEC, determined that a huge health gap was lack of primary care in rural communities. The political situation allowed Esperança to shift focus and establish an extremely successful primary care brigade program, which continues on to this day, led by a local doctor, dentist, nurse, and medical students. So far, over 7,700 men, women, and children have received primary, pediatric, or dental care from our brigade teams.
Upon close monitoring of Nicaragua’s political situation, a steady travel advisory rating, and encouragement from our in-country partner, AVODEC, Esperança’s international team to believed that conditions were once again safe to begin sending volunteers from the United States. In two years, the need for quality specialized surgical care never faltered, and strong established relationships with in-country hospitals make it an ideal site to receive mission teams.
So, in late January, a team made up of Esperança staff, Board, and medical volunteers journeyed to a hospital in La Dalia to assess safety and security concerns surrounding the travel of international volunteers to Nicaragua.
In a new model of surgical mission, Esperança Board member and general surgeon Dr. Feuerstein and two of his colleagues integrated with local medical professionals to form one cohesive volunteer surgical team. His group arrived on Saturday and went straight into surgery on Sunday morning because patients had already been screened and selected by local surgeons.
Over the course of the week, the team performed 79 successful general and gynecological surgeries, significantly more than projected.
Following a successful mission and outstanding overall site evaluation, Esperança plans to reinstate surgical missions with international volunteers in Nicaragua for the time being. However, the recommendation is to veer away from large teams (10+). Teams travelling to Nicaragua must be able to procure all their own supplies. Volunteer teams cannot count on the hospitals providing most surgical supplies and some medications.
So, Esperança is in full recruitment mode for new teams. Needed surgical specialties were determined as:
- General Pediatrics
- Varicose Veins,
- Varicose Ulcers
Interested in joining a surgical mission?