Poverty and Geography: Barriers to Access Healthcare

You can help alleviate barriers to access healthcare

What kills more than 7 million children under age 5 each year? 

Treatable illnesses. But by removing the barriers to access health care, lives can be saved.

According to research conducted by the World Health Organization, globally, 21,000 children under the age of 5 die every single day from illnesses like diarrhea, pneumonia and other diseases. 

Treatable and preventable

Why is the child mortality rate higher in developing countries than in the rest of the regions?

Many factors add up to this tragic statistic. First, when a child lives in extreme poverty, their family is in survival mode every day. Parents work daily to make money to buy food and afford little else. 

When a child is sick, a clinic or doctor is often too far for the family to afford transportation. Or the family will borrow to pay for transport and borrow again to pay for medicines or a clinic visit. So now they have lost a day’s work or more and are in debt, pushing them further into poverty with no way out. 

This cycle of poverty affects generations of families in impoverished communities across the Caribbean and Latin America.

Biggest health problems in the Caribbean and Latin America

Barriers to accessing health care continues to be the major health challenge in developing countries throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.

UNICEF reports that heart disease and cancers are responsible for more than 80 percent of deaths in the Caribbean and Latin America. Infectious diseases, typically resulting from an infection, and injuries make up the other 20 percent of deaths.

A community of support

Lack of access to essential medicines in developing countries is a significant problem faced by doctors in impoverished areas.

As a significant supplier of medicine, health and medical equipment to clinics and hospitals in the Caribbean and Latin American, Food For The Poor works toward improving access to medicines in developing countries and providing vulnerable children and infants with the proper medical attention they need to grow healthy.

FFTP is in close contact with community-based, in-country partners working to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable families and children in the Caribbean and Latin America. 

In-country partners who go into communities and monitor the health of their residents give FFTP the opportunity to look at the data and hear from local community members. Needs are assessed and tailored specifically to each community ensuring all voices are heard.  

No cry left unheard

Health care is a human right. Access to proper health care means that children, families and entire communities have the right to live healthy lives.

In some communities, extremely impoverished children and families are shunned because they might have health or developmental issues that are not understood by their community and are in dire need. The barriers to accessing health care can also be as simple as not being able to afford to see a doctor or not having a doctor available close enough to a person’s community.

Improving access to health care for pregnant mothers, educating families on preventing disease with good hygiene practices and bringing health care closer to rural communities are all part of the impact FFTP makes because of the support and sacrifice of its donors.

Together, we are protecting the fundamental rights of vulnerable children and families.

For example, access to maternal health care for women can be tough to obtain. Some public health centers don’t have the staff, equipment or time to evaluate a mother properly.

As a result, pregnant women and their children are put at an alarming risk for disease and even death. FFTP works to expand and build maternal health clinics in rural areas.

Early Christians were deeply convicted and concerned about healing the sick, physically and spiritually.

Remember in Luke 9:1 when Jesus was instructing the disciples? He gave them the authority and the power to cure diseases. Jesus cared about the sick, and when we show our care, we reflect Christ’s love, too.

Where is the safety net?

In the United States, there are programs for families without health insurance and free clinics. In addition, government and community-based health programs are available. But in the countries served by Food For The Poor, these safety nets do not exist.  

Often, a mother will explain that one of her children died and that she worries endlessly that her other children will also die because she can’t afford medicine or a doctor’s visit. 

Some mothers will push through an illness and keep working to feed their children, but tragically, they end up orphaned because their mothers die. Or the children cannot attend school because they stay home to care for their sick parents. 

A mother of twin baby boys in Latin America lost one son to a respiratory illness. When her remaining son came down with the same symptoms, she took a boat and a bus and then walked the remaining miles to a hospital to save her little one. 

She had to stay at the hospital for days while doctors worked to resolve his severe malnutrition and respiratory issues. While at the hospital, she lost her job and her husband moved on to another job and left her. 

Her little boy died. She left the hospital alone, penniless and in debt. 

And tragic scenarios like these play out in millions of households throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.

When families cannot afford essential medicines or the transportation costs to reach the nearest hospital or clinic, treatable illnesses become lethal.

By improving access to medicines in developing countries, children like Erick would receive the treatment he needed immediately, instead of waiting, which could have led to a fatal infection.

One morning, the roof of their kitchen collapsed on 3-year-old Erick and his mother, Neri. Piping hot coffee spilled over Erick’s bare foot, badly scalding his tender skin.

Erick’s burned foot was so painful, he cried and begged his mom to help him feel better. Without money for a doctor, Erick’s mother could only offer him home remedies.

Neri applied toothpaste to the wound, saying that she believed it might cool it off.

Every morning, Neri made a pot of coffee over an open fire with Erick always by her side. She didn’t drink the coffee, but instead went out into the village and sold cups of it to her neighbors. Their makeshift kitchen was built from leftover pieces of tin that Erick’s father had after building their current shack from any scraps he could find, including borrowed tarps for the roof.

Open cooking fires are a constant threat. Burns, scaldings and other injuries are common for poverty-stricken families living in cramped, unstable and hazardous conditions.

Even the most basic medical care is not accessible for families in need living long distances from clinics and hospitals. Instead of rushing a sick child to a hospital, parents often have to treat their child with homemade remedies because they don’t have the money for bus fare or medicine that could save the child’s life.

As Christians, we pray for a restoration of health in the face of illness and that the person who is ill will never be alone even if they do not get better.

Why you matter

Your sacrifice means that no child’s health is compromised because their mother is too destitute to pay for the medicine.

Your support means that a family won’t stay trapped in the grip of poverty because the breadwinner died from an illness that a $5 antibiotic could have prevented. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Food For The Poor joined together with several of its trusted partners to ship aid to countries asking for immediate help and shipped special freezers to Haiti made to store COVID-19 vaccines.  FFTP does not have the medical capacity to handle vaccines, but providing freezers was a way to offer significant aid to Haiti.

You can deliver a healthy future

At FFTP, the generosity and sacrifice of donors provide essential medicines, equipment and medical supplies to poverty-stricken areas. 

Only through you can we support clinics, hospitals and nutrition centers that offer lifesaving treatment to those who have nowhere else to turn. 

All of us want access to good health care and preferably close to our homes, and it is no different in the Caribbean and Latin America. 

But in the rural areas, many clinics have electricity that goes on and off all day, little access to clean water trucked in daily or weekly, and at times, a shortage of medicine. 

FFTP makes it a priority to improve these conditions.

Our well-established network of partner organizations offers affordable (and often free-of-charge) care to impoverished communities. 

Early in history, caring for the sick and needy globally happened at hospitals and through health programs created by religious denominations motivated to spread the mercy, compassion and love of Christ.

From the Bernard Mevs Hospital in Haiti to the Our Lady of the Poor Clinic in Jamaica to the countless medical centers we support throughout Latin America, children and families living in extreme poverty receive lifesaving medical care. 

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2, NIV)

We could not do this without you. You seek to live your Christian life by bringing the Gospel to life through your love. United in God’s work, our actions make a difference in the health of our neighbors. 

The Lord teaches us to love our neighbors and we do that by giving a sacrifice so that families and children living in poverty are empowered to live healthy lives. 

We have every good and blessed thing because God graciously gave it to us. We collectively and lovingly bear the burdens of our brothers and sisters out of obedience to the Lord. 

And loving our neighbors means caring for them in any way that will help bring them to the fullness of God’s love. 

Because of your love for God and your concern for your neighbor’s health, FFTP continues to save lives.

Thank you for choosing to make an intentional sacrifice that impacts the health of vulnerable children and families who need you most. 

Help Save Lives Today

How We Help

  • In the first six months of 2020, a total of 256 tractor-trailer loads of pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, medical furniture and medical equipment were sent to the countries we serve
  • We support hospitals, clinics, HIV/AIDS facilities, homes for the elderly and homes for orphaned and abandoned children

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