By Alejandra Naravez, Communications Specialist, Pro Mujer in Nicaragua
“Beans, cheese, hot tortillas!” María Vidalia Blanco, a street food vendor from Reparto Venceremos, one of León’s poorest neighborhoods, repeats this phrase over and over each day.
Before she joined Pro Mujer four years ago, María could not afford medical insurance with the earnings from her business. And naturally, illnesses do not take socioeconomic status into account. María is over 50, a diabetic, and had her ovaries and uterus removed several years ago due to lesions on her cervix. Like thousands of other women in Nicaragua, she had to decide whether or not to lose a day’s work and pay approximately US$25 for a preventive medical consultation, and she decided to delay care. For women from impoverished communities, seeking medical care often requires immense economic sacrifice.
María Vidalia Blanco, a street food vendor from Reparto Venceremos, one of León’s poorest neighborhoods.
Today, with Pro Mujer, María has access to credit, training and healthcare – and all in one convenient location. Just a few days ago, she became the first client to buy Pro Mujer in Nicaragua’s new integrated health package, which will give her access to unlimited consultations, dental care, ophthalmological care, and discounts with different specialists – all for an annual fee of just US$28.
“I am a member of the Communal Bank Yahir,” explains María. “There are 15 of us, and we are already in our 9th loan cycle. Our loan officer, Ana Leticia, explained that the health package would include a lot of services and that we could pay for it with our savings. I’ve saved more than 5,000 córdobas (approximately US$214) and I decided to buy the package. It has gynecological care and unlimited consultations. Without paying anything extra, I can go to the clinic at Pro Mujer and see a doctor if I need to.”
María proudly displays her receipt for the health package she just purchased.
María admits that her last visit to the dentist was when she was 18 years old, and since then she has lost several teeth. She will now be able to save her remaining teeth, since Pro Mujer has two dentists on staff who work with the latest technology.
Other than its low cost, another benefit of the health package is that clients who buy it can transfer services to their children or grandchildren though discount coupons. María insists that all of the services included in the package are valuable. After a glucose test at Pro Mujer indicated elevated levels of sugar in her blood, she was sent to a hospital emergency room for immediate treatment. If she had not been seen on time, she would have faced serious long-term damage to her eyes, nerves, kidneys, and heart.
Pro Mujer is focused on preventive healthcare. The credit, explains Gloria Ruiz, General Manager of Pro Mujer in Nicaragua, is not the most important aspect of the organization’s work. Above all, clients’ health is the highest priority, because an “unhealthy woman means an unhealthy business,” says Gloria.
Thanks to Pro Mujer in Nicaragua’s health program, the lives of more than 3,000 women have been saved because of a simple Pap test.
Nicaragua’s new health model has officially been launched in León, and in the words of Gloria Ruiz, “after the first step, we will never stop walking.”
To help women like María receive the new health package, please donate now.