Like women all over the world, Nicaraguan women will take care of their children and partners before considering their own health. But Nicaraguan women are extremely vulnerable due to poverty:
- Nicaragua has the highest cervical cancer death rate in the Western Hemisphere; a disease that is preventable in countries where the HPV vaccine is available for girls and easily treatable when caught early with routine PAPs.
- Housewives are the fastest growing population of people testing positive for HIV in Nicaragua due to mandatory testing of pregnant women in order to prevent passing the virus on to the infant at birth.
- Four out of every 10 Nicaraguan women will die of complications due to type 2 diabetes.
The Nueva Vida Clinic’s nurse takes Papanicolaou tests (PAP) at the clinic. The tests are sent out to a pathologist to be read in order for the results to be back in a week or two, instead of the six months it might take through the public clinics. If the results are abnormal in any way, the nurse calls the women and they are scheduled for follow-ups. The services of gynecologists who are able and willing to freeze or cut off abnormalities found on the cervix are greatly needed. If you can volunteer, please do.
The clinic has a couple of support groups for pregnant mothers (many in their teens). Here women can learn about pregnancy and childbirth and they can ask questions and receive accurate answers. Another support group is for mothers with infants. Here the mothers learn about nurturing, breast feeding, vaccinations, child development, nutrition, and they bring their babies in for regular checkups. A third support group is for mothers with growing children. This group was started when mothers were ”graduating” from the other groups and wanted to keep learning and keep the support they had found.
The clinic also has support groups for preteen and teen girls to help them discover and learn about many aspects of life, have fun, and explore the larger regional area. These groups’ goals are to encourage girls to wait to have babies.
Family planning counseling is also available. Women can receive birth control pills, injections, and IUDs free of charge. Free condoms are offered in the clinic to protect women and men against HIV, other STDs as well as unwanted pregnancy. For a nominal fee the clinic also offers birth control implants that last from three to five years.