September 6, 2012

New SIMS mission trip visits Honduras

Dr. Stephen Dunbar (pointing) with community member and tortuguero Nerys Zalaya, observe an olive ridley sea turtle at El Venado, Honduras.

Students for International Mission Service (SIMS), with a trip led by Stephen Dunbar, Ph.D., offered tremendous medical mission opportunities for Loma Linda University students at El Venado, Honduras.

El Venado lies on the southern tip of Honduras, facing the Pacific Ocean, and is one of the desperately poor areas of the nation, with several hundred residents. The medical needs of the area are typical of those in any poor, undeveloped community.

According to the World Health Organization, infectious and parasitic diseases are the leading casuses of death in Honduras. Gastroenteritis and tuberculosis are serious problems. Diseases such as influenza, malaria, typhoid and pneumonia--once believed to be under control--have returned in force because of a lack of preventive measures. Due to a poor diet high in carbohydrates, many of the residents of El Venado have high blood-sugar levels exceeding 400 mg/dl. Skin ailments are common.

Of course, any trip to El Venado is highlighted by the turtle research of Dr. Dunbar, an associate professor in the School of Public Health's department of earth and biological sciences. Classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the olive ridley comes ashore during the months of August through November, offering a unique opportunity to see the turtles lay their eggs.

Travel to El Venado is among the most convenient SIMS trips with a short flight to Honduras: Within half a day, one can offer medical services to the poor or search the shores for turtles.

For more information about other SIMS trips, visit lluglobal.com/site/c.msKRL6PNLrF/b.5551113/k.BCBE/SIMS.htm.

A version of this story was first published on the Loma Linda University School of Pharmacy Web site.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the official conservation status of the olive ridley sea turtle. The status of the olive ridley sea turtle is vulnerable.

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