Honduras’ high rate of violence has medical, psychological and social consequences
A republic in Central America, Honduras – home to 8.7 million people – became independent from Spanish rule in 1821.
In 1998, Hurricane Mitch devastated the country with at least 5,000 people killed and 70 percent of the country’s crops destroyed.
The damage was estimated at US$3 billion. The Honduran President at the time said 50 years of progress had been reversed.
Honduran society is rife with economic inequality. Malnutrition, poor housing and infant diseases are widespread.
It is also has the most dangerous city in the world – the murder rate in San Pedro Sula is 171 people per 100,000 per year. Yet, the medical consequences of violence are not considered as a public health emergency.
Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) first worked in Honduras in 1974. In fact, our response to Hurricane Fifi-Orlene was our first long-term medical project.
Our work in the country has since provided a response to armed conflict, social violence, healthcare exclusion and endemic/epidemic diseases.
MSF’s work in Honduras: 2016
Honduras has experienced years of political, economic and social instability, and has one the highest rates of violence in the world. This has medical, psychological and social consequences for Hondurans.
In 2016, we continued our servicio prioritario or priority service in collaboration with the Honduran Ministry of Health, offering emergency medical and psychological care to victims of violence, including sexual violence.
This free, confidential, one-stop service is available at two health centres and in Tegucigalpa’s main hospital.
In 2016, we treated over 900 victims of violence, including 560 victims of sexual violence, and carried out 1,830 mental health consultations.
Medical treatment for rape includes post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV infection and provide protection against other sexually transmitted infections, hepatitis B, and tetanus.
Mental healthcare includes counselling, group therapies and psychological first aid.
We also carried out activities to improve control of the Aedes mosquito, the insect responsible for the transmission of zika, dengue and chikungunya, in Tegucigalpa.
These included a geographical vector analysis to gather information on the possible areas where greater efforts are needed, and community outreach to inform people about fumigation and other ways of controlling the mosquito.
The emergency contraceptive pill remains banned in Honduras, despite ongoing debate in the Honduran Congress to change the policy on emergency contraception.
We continue to advocate for access to medical care for victims of sexual violence (including emergency contraception) that is in accordance with international protocols.
We have highlighted the psychological and medical consequences of pregnancy as a result of sexual assault.
Find out more in our International Activity Report