In countries with limited healthcare resources like Nicaragua, when it comes to treating those that are sick, prevention is key. Though hospitals promote hand hygiene with posters and information, basic soap, sanitizers and even paper towels are non-existent.
A group called Team Nicaragua from London, Ontario recently returned from a mission trip which included a variety of community based projects. They visited Fernando Velez Paiz in the capital city of Managua, a hospital in dire need of basic hand hygiene on top of other major equipment needs. "We are lucky here in Canada that we don't often have to make tough decisions about resource management, but they make those decisions every day," said Melissa Marcy, RN. "Something as basic as hand sanitizer that Deb Canada provided - makes a real difference. It's one step in a series that helps to reduce infections." 
Though the hospital is the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) center for the region, most newborn babies do not even have hats or blankets and instead are wrapped in pillowcases.

"Babies that required phototherapy had to share light with another baby (whereas we might have 2 lights to a baby here in Canada), there were only 3 cardiac monitors, 2 CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines and 1 ventilator and a lot of isolettes (incubators), that were broken or missing parts. All for roughly 40 babies that were either sick or preterm," continues Marcy who is a maternal newborn nurse.
Her team did have a chance to do a hand hygiene session with mothers in the burn unit and mothers who had babies in the ICU, but unfortunately not with the hospital staff due to circumstances. Team Nicaragua were also involved in a number of projects which included painting a school and hospital, repairing a roofs as well as delivering baskets consisting of food staples and personal products for 10 widows. "I would strongly recommend donating any surplus resources to this hospital if you have the means to do so. It is truly a hospital in need, in a country that has a lot of need," concludes Marcy.