This week at GlobeMed, we learned a little bit about what it's like to grapple with the problems our partner organization encounters everyday. In El Salvador, El Pastoral de la Salud has to deal with everything from tobacco usage to transmission of STDs, but without a reliable government or police service, sometimes, they have to get a little creative. During the meeting, we received scenarios describing real-life problems and had to come up with our own solutions to combat them. Perhaps the most difficult part of this exercise was realizing the context and culture from which these troubles arose because only then could we formulate adequate fixes.
For example, a contentious issue for a lot of Salvadorans is teaching safe sex education because Catholicism and a belief in abstinence are so deeply rooted in society. We had to brainstorm a way to protect people's health while also respecting their culture. One possible solution is to teach safe sex within the context of marriage to avoid this roadblock, but any resolution has its drawbacks as we discovered.
Another problem was trying to lower tobacco usage because currently, 30% of Salvadorans smoke cigarettes. We could tackle this issue by attempting greater education of the harmful effects of tobacco. We could try to quantify the money spent on tobacco so people could see how much they could save if they quit. Many of these solutions are much harder to implement than they sound, so we definitely respect what the ladies at El Pastoral de la Salud do even more now!
On another note, GlobeMed has lots of great events coming up to raise awareness about public health, and we would love your participation. Some include the "What I Believe" campaign, the Human Rights dinner, and the Ugly Christmas Sweater sale. Many of these events are part of the 10 Days of Global Health, so look out for more info about them in the coming weeks.
Thanks and have a great week,