Four medical tablets for a child with disabilities
San Rafael del Sur, Managua, Nicaragua
6 080 500
Gross domestic product in USD (2014):
1 881 USD
Human Development Index (2014):
Place 132 of 187
The largest lake in Central America is in Nicaragua: lake Nicaragua, also known as Lago Cocibolca. It is the only lake containing freshwater sharks.
I want to live a life without fear!
Living with a disability in Nicaragua
"For me there is no day without fear, no bus ride when I'm not afraid - afraid of the moment when my boy has another seizure." Each one of these seizures destroys a little bit of Carlito's brain. That is what frightens his mother Johana Baltodano the most: that day by day her 14-year-old son loses the ability to recognize his mother. She worries that soon she will only be a stranger to him. And somehow he is still so little. The doctor has prescribed him some pills to suppress these life-threatening seizures, but Johana has not even dared to go near the pharmacy. She would never be able to pay for them.
Carlito was born healthy. Then, at eight months old, he had a sever seizure. But the hospital was too far away to treat him quickly. The result of the delayed treatment: cerebral palsy - a lifelong disability.
What happened to young Carlito is not uncommon in Nicaragua: about 10.3% of the population is affected by a disability (ENDIS, 2003). By comparison: it is 9.4% in Germany (Statistisches Bundesamt, 2014). The origin of this high rate of disabilities can be linked to poverty, because poverty creates circumstances that favor disabilities, be it malnutrition, lack of clean drinking water, lack of infrastructure or insufficient health care (WHO, 2011), as in Carlito's case. According to Nicaraguan surveys, the most prevalent cause of a disability is the extreme poverty that many people with disabilities live in. Buying the necessary medicines becomes impossible (ENDIS, 2003). Religious or cultural reasons for insufficient care for people with a disability also have to be taken into account in some cases: such as the belief that the child's disability is God's will, and then being quick to give up if treatment does not have an immediate effect. And God's punishment also comes with a great deal of public shame, and so there is the tendency to keep a child with a disability hidden away (ENDIS, 2003).
The good deed
Providing medicines to around 23 children with a disability first and foremost gives them a better quality of life and/or extends their life expectancy. In cases of emergency, life-saving surgery can be provided, which would otherwise surely be impossible. This helps some children to live an independent life, because they are less affected by their condition, while it can give others pain relief. Improving the health of their children also unburdens the parents and makes their live a little easier.
A particular challenge is the number and the individuality of these children. As very few people in Nicaragua have health insurance, the Pipitos Center is host to a large number of children with a wide variety of disabilities and needs that urgently require medicines. Furthermore, the state-run health centers are overwhelmed and poorly equipped, making it impossible for them to address the needs of people with a disability. That is why the medication project is coordinated among volunteer doctors, the psychotherapist and the psychologist at the Pipitos Center. In consultation with the parents, they try to find the medical treatment that is best for their child.
After around 7 months
After around 3 years
After around 7 years
INEC (2003). Encuesta Nicragüense para Personas con Discapacidad, INEC, Nicaragua.
Albrecht G. et al. (2011). World Report on Disability, World Health Organization, Geneva.
Marten U. (2013). 7,5 Millionen schwerbehinderte Menschen leben in Deutschland, Statistisches Bundesamt, Wiesbaden.