Report from Dr. Castro

By Dr. Francisco Castro-

January marked the start of my sixth year as medical director and pediatrician at Dorie’s Promise. The past month brought non-stop activity and numerous issues to attend to, especially after Christmas vacation.

However, we were able to meet every need because of our committed, capable team, which strives to fulfill children’s needs.

Above all, we place a priority on children’s integral health. This includes day-to-day, individual attention for children, personnel and sometimes visitors. Whether a doctor, Special Mother or administrative personnel, everyone watches for the “little things” that can become major concerns.

By doing this we are able to promote children’s biological and physiological health, healthy social interaction, and supportive spirituality.

Naturally, we treat acute illnesses—mostly minor injuries—and respiratory, gastrointestinal, and skin problems. However, we are aware that children at our home also suffer from chronic conditions, usually identified when they arrive. Most are curable, but some problems remain and will “mark” a child forever. This is the case with children who have cerebral palsy or a congenital syndrome.

The most common disorder is malnutrition, which affects a child’s stature, brain development, and sometimes his or her mental health. Of course, there is always hope. We often see the miracle called resilience. This is a phenomenon where—despite a miserable past, neglect and abuse—a child emerges to become a wonderful, affectionate human being.

Our health system has also evolved to provide useful norms and procedures that enable us to avoid nasty, infectious-disease outbreaks, a common problem in the past. However, this remains a threat in an institution where many children and adults live together.

As with any system, everything is prone to failures, as well improvements and innovations. This is precisely the challenge I see in front of us.

Our children still need improved developmental and learning opportunities, more daily physical activities, healthier diets, more effective dental procedures, and a healthy, stimulating environment.

Guatemala has slowed adoptions in recent years, which presents another challenge. While we still accept babies, other children are growing fast and will stay longer with us. So, another adjustment we must make is caring for older children, including adolescents.

This requires us to do more research on children’s adoptability and find more resources to deal with enormous social, economic and cultural situations, and work to prevent poverty and resolve other social issues.

We must also act as advocates and work to provide the best care possible if we want to see healthier children—and future productive citizens.

This means we must not only provide care at our home, but seek to help communities through comprehensive outreach programs. I believe this will be possible with solidarity, loving care and commitment from those of us who have the privileges of a wealthier life, education and Christian values.

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