Salesians: Serving the Whole Person

Publication Date: 
February 12, 2014

Every three seconds, a child dies from a preventable disease -- simply because of a lack of access to basic medical care. In fact, millions of people in impoverished countries remain vulnerable to illnesses that shouldn’t be fatal but are. In more than 200 medical clinics and hospitals operated by Salesian missionaries around the globe, we are taking small steps to change this heartbreaking reality.

Such “diseases of poverty” -- malaria, tuberculosis, dysentery and more -- flourish in developing nations where unsafe drinking water, malnourishment and poor hygiene encourage their spread. And sadly, while these illnesses are often highly treatable and inexpensive to cure, lack of resources means the people who need health care the most are needlessly left to suffer. Women and children are especially, and disproportionately, vulnerable.

That’s why Salesian Missions is passionate about providing medical services to those in need, whenever and wherever possible.

“The health of the people we serve is very important to us,” says Fr. Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions. “The work we do in programs around the globe goes far beyond education. We serve the whole person by making sure the basic needs of health and nutrition are met, as well as other social service needs.”

For example, in East Timor (a country that suffers the second-highest rates of tuberculosis in the Asia and Pacific regions) the Salesians operate the Maria Auxiliadora Medical Clinic. Here, they provide preventive care and dispense medicine for people in the town of Venilale and surrounding villages. The clinic also offers care for mothers and children, health education, and tuberculosis and malaria testing.

According to the most recently available statistics, in 2012 alone, more than 8,000 people -- half of the area’s population -- attended the clinic. For just $1, patients receive a check-up and any medicine and treatment they may need. Recently, clinic staff identified and successfully treated 24 cases of tuberculosis. As challenging health issues continue to face the people of East Timor, this service will remain a crucial part of the clinic’s work moving forward.

Thanks to the caring generosity of friends like you, Salesian Missions can assist with the operation of health clinics like Maria Auxiliadora in some of the poorest areas of the world, where access to medical care would otherwise be unavailable. From infant care and tuberculosis treatment, to health education and dental programs, Salesians missionaries are breaking the barriers to health, one person at a time.

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