WORLD HEALTH DAY: Salesian health programs provide access to care for people living in poverty
Salesian missionaries offer more than 150 medical clinics and hospitals in mostly rural areas around the globe.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (April 7, 2022) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian and other international organizations in honoring World Health Day on April 7. In 1948, the World Health Organization (WHO) held the First World Health Assembly and designated the day to mark the founding of WHO. The first World Health Day was held in 1950. Every year it serves as an opportunity to draw worldwide attention to a particular theme of importance related to global health.
The theme for World Health Day 2022 is “Our planet, our health” and focuses global attention on urgent actions needed to keep people and the planet healthy and foster action to help societies focus on well-being. WHO notes, “An estimated 13 million deaths around the world each year are due to avoidable environmental causes. This includes the climate crisis which is the single biggest health threat facing humanity. The climate crisis is also a health crisis.”
Salesian missionaries offer more than 150 medical clinics and hospitals in mostly rural areas around the globe that serve a wide range of medical care needs. In many countries with Salesian programs, dental care and other necessary health services are offered to poor youth and their families who might otherwise have no access to health care.
Salesians have also focused their attention on the environment. The Don Bosco Green Alliance launched in India in 2018 and today has 526 members in 79 countries. The alliance is focused on combating pollution, reducing global warming and eliminating disposable plastics. In each of these areas, it aims to partner with ongoing global campaigns promoted by U.N. Environment or other international organizations.
“The work of Salesian missionaries around the globe goes beyond education,” says Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Salesians aim to serve the whole person by making sure that basic needs like health and nutrition are met in addition to other social service needs. This also includes care for the environment and combating the health conditions that arise as a result of pollution and other environmental impact.”
On World Health Day 2022, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight medical and health programs that provide critical services to those living in poverty.
Thanks to the collaboration between the Municipality of Araçatuba in Brazil and the Faculty of Medicine of UniSalesiano, the Salesian University in Araçatuba, the city has a new health center called Auxilium. The health center is centralizing specialist outpatient services to ensure efficient, systematized and patient-centered health care.
The health center will have doctors available who specialize in cardiology, urology, otolaryngology, orthopedics and angiology. There is also a multidisciplinary team made up of professionals in the areas of physiotherapy, nursing, nutrition and social work, along with programs to treat patients with Hansen’s disease and those undergoing ostomy. A gynecology clinic is equipped for all minor tests and surgeries.
The facility will also host the Reference Center for Workers’ Health, which provides medical and nursing assistance, along with new equipment dedicated to physiotherapy.
Don Bosco University in San Salvador, El Salvador, is empowering the next generation of medical rehabilitation practitioners to transform the lives of people with mobile disabilities through its “Walking Anew!” project. 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 “Walking Anew!” project has expanded and upgraded the facilities at Don Bosco University’s School of Rehabilitation Science and the equipment used to train medical rehabilitation professionals. The project is pioneering innovative techniques in the treatment of people with disabilities.
The construction of the new building, which houses the Applied Research Center, allows for the exchange of information with professionals in the field at an international level. It also provides space for a new podiatry laboratory and other specialized practices. The program has already trained people from El Salvador, other countries in Central America, South America, Haiti, Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
With the new building, Don Bosco University is the first university in El Salvador with a building built under LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) parameters. The building has incorporated aspects related to energy efficiency, the use of alternative energies, the improvement of indoor environmental quality, the efficiency of water consumption, the sustainable development of open spaces on land and the selection of environmentally friendly materials.
The annex building, which houses a laboratory and research building for people with mobility disabilities, won the Sustainable Construction Award granted by the Salvadoran Chamber of Construction (CASALCO) in the medium project category.
The Salesian Province of Bangalore, BREADS and the Youth Commission of the Archdiocese of Bangalore led by the Salesian Father Anil D’Sa facilitated initiatives to help those affected by COVID-19 in India. Health clinics were held to help vaccinate people and provide health kits for those in need.
BREADS packaged and shipped individual protection kits, which contained masks, disinfectants, thermometers, face shields and other essentials, to people in need in the State of Karnataka. BREADS also distributed medical kits to volunteers working on the front lines and families infected with COVID-19.
Don Bosco Agricultural and Rural Development Service in Mandya also distributed health kits to frontline volunteers, social workers and kindergarten teachers. Salesians in Bhadravati distributed health kits for residents of the Siddhartha Center for the Blind.
Salesians are focused on the prevention of COVID-19. Don Bosco Degree College in Chitradurga held a drive-in vaccination clinic in collaboration with the State of Kerala government and the Salesian house in Vaduthala. In Vaduthala, Salesian staff and students helped the elderly and those living in poverty to schedule their vaccinations online.
Salesian Father Philip Gboa has launched a new Climate Club in Lungi, a small coastal town in the Port Loko District of the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. The club will be open to the more than 6,000 youth in the local Salesian schools and youth center and will have a focus on environmental education and activities. The goal is to start the club with at least 60 youth. Ten volunteer teachers at St. Augustine Agricultural Secondary and Junior Secondary Schools will facilitate the program,
“When the world is talking about climate change and environmental impact, it’s not being talked about here,” said Fr. Gboa. “People throw garbage around and don’t really care about the environment much. They cut down trees for no reason. There are plastic bags littered all over. We have beaches but no one uses them because they are so dirty. As a result, we have diseases like cholera and typhoid, and something needs to change. It’s not just the parents who are impacted, it’s the children too.”
The Climate Club will run three days a week and offer youth educational sessions and activities that will teach them about the environment and allow them to put those lessons into action. As an incentive to take part, Fr. Gboa said that youth who become ambassadors will be eligible for financial support to cover 50 percent of their university fees.
Contact: [email protected]