Doctors for Global Health – El Salvador



Dora Aydee is a 6 year old girl who developed an intense headache accompanied by seizures last Christmas.  She was rushed by the CAIPES (Center for Integrated Care, Prevention and Education in Health) staff to the hospital, where an infection was ruled out and the seizures were controlled with medication. The physicians wanted to perform a CT scan, but the family was unable to pay the $100 cost.  Several weeks later, she arrived in the CAIPES clinic with several swollen, non-tender lymph nodes.  At this point, all physicians involved were very concerned about cancer.  (Brain cancer is much more common in children and often presents with new seizures.)  Using funds from CAIPES and CDH (Campesinos para el Desarrollo Humano), an appointment for CT scan was arranged.  Dora was accompanied to the appointment with a community health worker, and fortunately, the exam was negative for any sort of mass.  While Dora is still on medication for a new onset seizure disorder, her family and doctors are relieved to know that she does not have cancer.


Erlinda, a woman who came to Estancia because her sons could no longer take care of her in San Salvador (the capital city.)  A woman in her 50’s, Erlinda has severe Parkinson’s disease.  At her first appointment (which was a home visit) she could not move her arms and legs due to rigidity, had an incessant tremor, and had lost control of her bowels and bladder.  She was completely dependent on her sister for her everyday activities.  Parkinson’s treatment is very expensive.  However, using part of our referrals fund, we were able to obtain the medication for her.  This medication, combined with physical therapy, is allowing Erlinda to renew her independence.  She can now move her arms and legs voluntarily and without rigidity.  (Smoothing her hair is a big accomplishment, she says.)  Her tremor is less noticeable, and she feels better about herself.  In small doses, she is regaining her humanity.


Gregoria was an active woman in her 30’s – taking care of her children, making hammocks, and helping her husband in the cornfield.  While waiting for the bus one day, though, she was hit by a car.  In efforts to save her life, both her legs were amputated at the mid-thigh.  Her life was completed changed.  She could no longer accomplish the tasks she had before and was completely reliant on her husband and young sons.  Understandably, she was greatly distressed and quickly became sullen and depressed.  CAIPES contacted their volunteer physical therapist, who started Gregoria on a rehabilitation program to rebuild muscle and confidence.  Through contacts at the hospital, she was also able to obtain a wheelchair, and eventually, leg prosthesis.  Gregoria can now support her weight and take several steps with the prosthesis, allowing her to care for her family and be independent.  She has literally been given new legs.  More importantly, though, she is now smiling again.