Global Health & Health Disparities Program (GH2DP): Yoro, Honduras


This site represents the principle international focus of our global health program. Since 2008 we have focused our efforts on communities in the Yoro area of northern Honduras, with our current efforts primarily focused in and around the rural, mountainous area of La Hicaca.

Since 2006 the VCU Department of Internal Medicine has partnered with the Honduras Outreach Medical Brigada Relief Effort (“HOMBRE”) organization, a 501c3 non-profit organization affiliated with Virginia Commonwealth University, to send medicine residents to remote areas of Honduras to participate in direct medical relief work as well as public health projects. In 2008 a formal elective within the Department of Internal Medicine was created, the Central American Relief Elective (C.A.R.E.) (now known as the Global Health & Health Disparities Program, GH2DP). Over the years we have continued our productive relationship with HOMBRE, and have also partnered with multiple other organizations, as well.

Since 2006 we have sent fifteen medicine interns and residents on these relief trips and have involved approximately 45 medical students, as well. We have seen nearly 11,000 patients and have helped to distribute, test and maintain over 300 water filters (each of which can provide clean water to an entire household for 2 years).

We have reached approximately 75% of the families in the area around La Hicaca via our water filter project, with the incidence of diarrheal illness decreasing by 50% since the project’s inception. In 2010 we adopted a novel project, the Adult Health Initiative, that utilizes a novel clinical encounter mechanism that significantly improved both the quality and consistency of care we provide on our short-term relief mission (more about this can be found here).

We primarily serve patients in and around La Hicaca in the Department of Yoro area of Northern Honduras. This is a rural, mountainous area with limited to no access to medical care. Approximately 2,000 people live in this area across 17 different villages. Our brigades are designed to provide care to the majority of residents living in these villages.

Our relief work has typically involved a 8 to 14 day brigade in June, with a second planning trip in January. We partner closely with the local Ministry of Health and community leaders to integrate into their health efforts and to guide our direct medical and public health initiatives.

Our most recent brigade was held May 26 to June 3rd; we saw approximately 330 adults (and another 360 children), provided anti-worm therapy to all adults and screened for diabetes, hypertension and anemia, as well. We distributed over 150 water filters and facilitated 80 pap smears. We administered over 190 satisfaction surveys (a quality improvement survey designed to improve the care/ services we provide) and 170 Chagas disease surveys, as well. We also provided education about the dangers of indoor air pollution and feedback about things people can do to improve respiratory health.


Department of Yoro, Honduras

For more information contact:

Michael P. Stevens, M.D., M.P.H.

P.O. Box 980019

Richmond, Virginia 23298-0019

Phone: (804) 828-2121

“My experience on two brigades in rural Honduras radically changed my world view. Being on the ground in areas of need is a powerful, enlightening experience that challenged me to think beyond the microcosm of medicine I practice in the US and to recognize the impact of poverty on the third world.”

                                 -Dr. Dan Markley, R3
“This was a unique experience and I feel very lucky to have been involved with this medical brigade. I have traveled to poverty stricken regions before but this was the first time I felt immersed in the culture and participated in a service project... the one aspect of the trip that I think was most impacting was the preparation of the water filters. I was pretty amazed at how little time and how few people it took to create a device that could prevent significant morbidity in the community and death from diarrheal illness in children. Partaking in the assembly line and helping instruct the students on how to put together and clean the filters was a very powerful moment that I won’t forget.” 

                        -Dr. Marilena Lekoudis, R2