Coffee Break Donations

Friday, May 11, 2012
By Wolfgang K Piller MD

Our co-writing Docs support the charity ‘German Doctors for the 3rd World’ www.aerzte3welt.de (English language option exists). Whilst one is keeping the house in order and the people of Almuñécar healthy, the other one will take a rather long coffee break in the hillsides of Northern Nicaragua.

Many readers already know about the more eccentric holiday destinations of Wolfgang, collecting medicines and second-hand clothes before his trips, but this year he is going to work for six weeks for this charity. He likes their concept; a mission of six weeks is still in accordance with normal life and the treatment is aimed at people, who otherwise would not be able to afford a visit to the doctor – an idea unimaginable to us.

Unfortunately, their engagement in Nicaragua, Kenya, Sierra Leone, India, Bangladesh and the Philippines will remain only a drop in the ocean on a large scale, but it means life or death for a few, because having their tuberculosis treated matters to them and raising their nutritional standard makes it more likely to survive pneumonia and diarrhoeal illness.

Nicaragua itself is, after Haiti, the second poorest country in the Americas. 50% of the population lives in poverty. Within the rural population, mainly peasants working in coffee or cotton plants, the rate rises to 70%. Poverty there is being defined as a family income of less than €1.45 a day, 16% of the population live on even less than €0.95 a day and poverty means poverty not social exclusion. Whilst the UK only spends less than 10% of the disposable income on food, in Nicaragua you quickly spend 80% of your income on basic items like rice, onions, beans and corn bread. On top of this the inflation averages 8%. But unlike most developing countries, there exists a health system in Nicaragua. Also the illiteracy rate is fairly low for such a poor country.

The doctor’s visit is free of charge, but medication and tests have to be paid for and whether the pharmacy has the medication in stock is a separate issue. The infrastructure is very bad, too. Although the German doctors drive daily for roughly two hours from the town of Ocotal into the mountains, quite a large number of patients have a march of three to four hours behind them when they reach their bases.

This means governmental treatment is nearly beyond reach for them. Those peasants usually own very little land on steep sites, the soil there is of poor quality and self-subsistence is impossible. Water often needs to be carried for kilometers. However, official nursing staff go in intervals with this charity and perform vaccinations, pregnancy care and contraception. Thus the ‘German Doctors’ regard this project as their luxury project, because in the other countries even those most basic services do not exist.

With his deployment Wolfgang expects a lot of new experiences and insights. But he also wants to point out, that doing something charitable does not mean that you have to go far away. Raising children e.g. is a social commitment which takes a lifetime and not only six weeks. However, despite that, he’d like you to give generously and with the ‘German Doctors’ he is confident, that the money really reaches its destiny.

Donations: Account (Konto) 488 888 0, Sorting code (BLZ) 520 604 10, EKK Bank, Germany. IBAN: DE12 5206 0410 0004 8888 80, BIC: GENODEF1EK1, code word Spain,
Or in ‘La Clinica,’ Almuñécar International Clinic, Paseo del Altillo 4, Almuñécar.

(Feature: German Column, Volunteer Doctor,Nicaragua)

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