Author: Salesian Missions

Publication Date: November 15, 2021

NICARAGUA: USAID-funded project to improve medical care for women and children with limited resources

Santa Rita de Casia Medical Dispensary started providing outpatient care to the general public.

NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Nov. 15, 2021) The University Clinic for Women and Children Santa Rita de Casia, part of the Catholic University of the Dry Tropics in Estelí, Nicaragua, is working to improve medical care for people with limited economic resources in the northern zone in the departments of Estelí, Madriz and Nueva Segovia. This project was made possible thanks to a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (USAID-ASHA) program secured by Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco.

The project, which runs from October 2019 to the end of September 2023, is currently in initial stages of construction with initial planning nearing completion. Once the facility is completed and equipped, the medical-surgical clinic for women and children will provide high-quality obstetrics, pediatrics and gynecology services. The clinic, created according to U.S. standards, will promote the U.S. values of gender equity, scientific excellence and equal access to quality medical care.

“With the support of USAID, Salesians in Nicaragua are improving access to medical care for people with limited economic resources, particularly women and children,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “This project is also providing practical experience for medical students as they train to become medical professionals. This will help to improve the overall medical care and expertise available in this part of Nicaragua.”

Santa Rita de Casia Medical Dispensary, which is also a part of this project and the Catholic University of the Dry Tropics medical school program, started providing outpatient care to the general public in July. There are 25 fourth-year medical students who help manage the patients through assigned rotations four days a week. These students work under the supervision of three teachers, two specialists and a general practitioner.

First-year medical students have also benefited from the clinic. One hundred first-year students had the opportunity to take part in training and practice in medical-surgical procedures, including first aid, taking vital signs and primary health care. These students were under the supervision of a specialist teacher.

To date, 180 patients have received general or specialty medical care. The clinic has seen an increasing number of patients since it opened.

There is also a dental clinic available for the general public. From July to September, 1,096 patients received dental check-ups and 1,306 dental treatments have been performed including regular dental cleanings, dental implants, surgeries and restorations.

Nicaragua, the poorest country in Central America and the second poorest in the Western Hemisphere, has widespread underemployment and poverty with a quarter of its population living below the poverty line, according to the World Bank. More than 80 percent of Nicaragua’s poor live in remote rural communities where access to basic services is a daily challenge.

Years of widespread poverty have taken their toll and many residents suffer from poor health conditions including HIV/AIDS. In addition, crime, violence against women, gang violence and high unemployment result in challenging economic and social conditions, particularly for young people and women.


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