212246 Assessing environmental health factors and herbal medicine use in Managua, Nicaragua

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Robert W.P. Orynich , College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

During the summer of 2008 an independent team of volunteers, physicians, and a priest travelled to Managua to support a medical clinic; to distribute food, supplies, and modest financial donations; and to conduct a health survey to better understand the health needs so future mission trips could provide more effective relief.


The health survey was conducted at a Nicaraguan Red Cross facility and a local public school after receiving oral consent from all participants and permission from appropriate administrations. Specified items were designed in a questionnaire format to ensure standard data collection. Once the representative population was identified, those consenting parties were then invited to participate in the structured survey. No intervention was involved. Results were collated, analyzed and summarized.


Results describe the percentages of people who are characterized by a myriad of factors such as sources of water, sanitation, food supply, herbal medicine use, and relief donations. For example, 45% of all surveyed individuals reported herbal remedies use. While only 65% of the herbal remedy subgroup utilized water from indoor plumbing, 96% of all individuals in the non-herbal remedy subgroup used water from indoor plumbing.


This study describes existing living conditions and highlights the dangerous environmental health factors that will guide our group's future medical mission plans towards supporting sanitation and water purification efforts. The positive correlation between non-indoor plumbing water source and herbal medicine use may reflect socioeconomic factors. The 17 described plants may have potential pharmacological value and should be investigated.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the current situation in the target community with regards to sources of water, sanitation, food supply, herbal medicine use, vaccinations, relief donations, medical problems and doctor visits. 2. Determine which risk factors are the most severe and in most need according to community members. 3. Develop a medical mission strategy that helps with the most significant health risks.

Keywords: Community Health Assessment, Alternative Medicine/Therapies

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: N/A

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the founder and co-director of Hands Across Borders, Inc. a 501(c)3 non-for-profit organization that has worked in Nicaragua in the past. I have participated in the past two AMSA conventions. I have had experience presenting a poster at the most recent AMSA convention.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.