Category Archives: Primary Health Care

Empowering a Community, One Person at a Time


A young patient and her doctor at AmeriCares El Salvador International Health Clinic.

Imagine this: Your name is Lina. You’re a 6-year-old girl living in Santiago de Maria, El Salvador.  Your family income is below the poverty line, and the public health system is neither efficient nor easily accessible. As a result, you suffer with health issues such as dengue fever, undernourishment, hepatitis and the common cold – conditions which are treatable — yet neither your family nor your community has the resources necessary to help you get well.

You’re often sick, and school becomes difficult to attend. Although you love school, you can’t pay attention during math because your tummy hurts and you don’t have the energy to focus.  You become more susceptible to disease and you can’t complete grammar school. Eventually, your life becomes a vicious cycle illustrated by this equation:

 Poor health + Little schooling = Low human capital
 Low human capital + Inadequate state infrastructure = Few chances to improve quality of life

Now, let’s turn this around.

Imagine this: You’re Lina, a 6-year-old girl, living in Santiago de Maria, El Salvador. Your community has a health clinic — La Clínica Integral de Atención Familiar — established by AmeriCares, that has helped underserved families like yours for 9 years. As a result, you have been going to the clinic since you were a baby. While growing up, you’ve faced several health issues such as dengue fever, undernourishment, hepatitis, and the common cold, but thanks to the health education and medical care provided at the clinic, you have been able to combat these diseases.

You’re strong, healthy, and you absolutely love going to school! You are a star student in your class and you help your fellow classmates understand the lessons too. Due to your passion for math and for serving others, you dream of becoming a math teacher.

 So — what does this mean for Lina’s future?

Because Lina has been going to AmeriCare’s health clinic, she will be able to finish her primary education. Hopefully, she will also be able to attend secondary school and eventually, university to pursue her dream of teaching. Lina now has the opportunity to make a positive impact on her community and country. She’ll be able to educate others, lead a healthy life, and provide for a future family that will, hopefully, be as happy and healthy as she is and work to build a healthier and safer El Salvador for future generations.

AmeriCares Clinica Integral de Atención Familiar

AmeriCares El Salvador International Health Clinic has been operating in Santiago de Maria since October 2003. Since its opening, the clinic has seen an average of 30,000 people per year. The clinic assures quality health care to underserved families and provides health resources and outreach to parents and families. The clinic provides primary care, pediatrics, gynecology, dentistry, and health education outreach, to help families like Lina’s lead healthier, stronger, and better lives for themselves, their communities, and their country.  Learn more about the clinic here.


From the Field: AmeriCares Family Clinic in Santiago de Maria, El Salvador

As an AmeriCares staff worker just visiting, if I were I to try to write the full story of a “day in the life” the AmeriCares clinic, I’d need about a year to do it. The clinic was bustling with activity. Patients ranged in age from newborn babies to a beautiful woman named Santana who would soon celebrate her 87th birthday. And the services the Clinic provides meet the needs of their wide range of patients.

One of the highlights of my day was meeting Ashley, an adorable four-year-old girl who had suffered from severe malnutrition. Her mother, Guadalupe, described Ashley as her “miracle baby”. She and her husband tried to conceive for five long years before Ashley was born.

When Ashley was about 9 months old, she came down with a terrible infection and her mother rushed her to the Clinic for help. Between diarrhea and loss of appetite, Ashley lost 10 pounds — about half her body weight. Guadalupe was frantic and feared for the life of her only child.

Doctors at the Clinic immediately gave Ashley the medicines and treatments she needed to fight the infection, stop the diarrhea and replenish the lost fluids. But that was only the beginning. Ashley entered AmeriCares nutrition program to help her thrive.

“The program has been a big help to my family and we are very thankful. But more than that — the whole community can see how much the Clinic helped Ashley,” said Guadalupe through a translator. “I’m glad she can be a role model so that when other kids get sick, their parents will take them to the Clinic right away. AmeriCares has a strong partnership with the local families, who in turn promote proper nutrition and preventive health care in the community every day.”

From nutritional supplements and cooking lessons, to hygiene items to reduce the risk of future infection, Ashley and her mom participate in the comprehensive program. Ashley even likes to play “kitchen” and sometimes helps Guadalupe make dinner.

Ashley now maintains a healthy weight and doctors at the clinic strictly monitor her health.