Strengthening Nicaragua’s Public Health System

Veteran rural women’s health professional Dorothea Granada, assisting Nicaraguan mother and child.

GHP’s large-scale medical donations are boosting supplies at community pharmacies throughout Nicaragua.

Global Health Partners has formed a highly productive partnership with Nicaragua’s Ministry of Health to bolster that country’s public health system. In each of the past five years, we’ve provided, in cooperation with Nicaragua’s disaster relief agencies, innovative disaster preparedness modules containing food and medicines capable of sustaining 5,000 people for 30 days. These medical and survival supplies are pre-positioned in strategic locations throughout the country If Nicaragua is not hit with a hurricane or other natural disaster in a given year, the Health Ministry releases these lifesaving supplies to clinics and hospitals, particularly thoseserving children.

For more than two decades GHP has been sending tens of millions of dollars worth of medical shipments to Nicaragua, the region’s second-poorest country (after Haiti). This year alone we have already shipped more than $15,200,000 in essential medicines and medical supplies to urban and rural hospitals and clinics.

Our Skills to Save Lives project works to reduce Nicaragua’s unacceptably high maternal death rate. Nearly a quarter of Nicaragua’s poorest women give birth without any assistance from a skilled health professional, with 10 percent receiving no prenatal care at all. Most of these women live in isolated rural communities where inequalities in health care are deepened by difficulties in transportation, lack of local healthcare facilities and a scant supply of trained community health workers.

In the rural northern region of Matagalpa, pregnancy and childbirth carry an exceptionally great risk, with a persistently high number of preventable maternal deaths and fetal complications. To address this hardship, GHP partners with local NGO Skills to Save Lives and the Women’s Empowerment Network, which trains midwives and community health workers to ensure safe childbirth and healthy newborns. Launched in 2011 by veteran rural women’s health professional Dorothea Granada, the project is a grassroots initiative that augments its training program by identifying and monitoring high-risk pregnancies, and ensuring safe, sanitary birthing conditions. This Safe Motherhood Project received a huge boost in 2014, when it became a national Ministry of Health initiative that is expanding into other underserved areas of the country.

Our current Nicaragua assistance projects of disaster preparedness and large-scale medical shipments complements our longstanding work to better the lives of children with disabilities and our newly launched cervical cancer prevention and treatment initiative.