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Honduras

Honduras has experienced years of political, economic and social instability, and has one of the highest rates of violence in the world. This has great medical, psychological and social consequences for the population.

Honduras continues to experience high levels of political, economic and social instability, and has one the world’s highest rates of violence. Women are among the worst affected by the medical, psychological and social consequences.

Internal Displacement

In 2016, El Salvador and Honduras were ranked second and fourth worldwide, respectively, for the rate of violent death, joining Syria and Afghanistan in the top five.

The nature of gang-based violence in Honduras is extremely targeted and personal. Although many people are offered witness-protection, or other forms of judicial support, people often remain targets if they remain in the country. MSF teams report families who were forcibly displaced four or five times before they made the difficult decision to cross the border, seeking asylum further north in the hopes of reaching the United States.

The Honduran government has acknowledged the crisis and estimates that around 200,000 people are internally displaced. Unofficial estimates place this number closer to half a million.

I'm heading north again because, unfortunately, I can no longer live in my country. The reasons I have to leave Honduras are due to the government and the gangs. There’s no work and they charge you a war tax.

Honduran patient
MSF Coatzacoalcos shelter

Sexual and Reproductive Health  

We treat victims of violence, including sexual and gender-based violence. We work with the Honduran Ministry of Health on our servicio prioritario (“priority service”) project which offers emergency medical and psychological care to victims of violence. This free, confidential, one-stop service is available at two health centres and in Tegucigalpa’s main hospital. 

For victims of sexual violence, we provide mental healthcare which includes counselling, group therapies and psychological first aid. Our medical treatment for rape includes post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV and hepatitis B infections, as well as protection against and treatment of other sexually transmitted infections such as syphilis and gonorrhoea.

The emergency contraceptive pill remains banned in Honduras, despite ongoing debate in the Honduran Congress. Our work highlights the psychological and medical consequences of pregnancy as a result of sexual assault. We continue to advocate for access to medical care for victims of sexual violence (including emergency contraception) in accordance with international protocols. 

MSF has supported a mother and child clinic in the municipality of Choloma since March 2017. Choloma, a rapidly expanding industrial area, is now the third most populous city in Honduras and is notorious for its high levels of violence. With few hospitals nearby, women in this area previously had difficulty accessing medical services. The result was high morbidity rates among women of sexual and reproductive age and high numbers of childbirth-related deaths.

The clinic offers quality healthcare to the public, free of charge, including antenatal and postnatal care, family planning, and emergency care.

Most of the women in the area went to nearby hospitals, such as those in San Pedro Sula, to give birth, often arriving with complications which might have been picked up by routine antenatal care. We provide support to this clinic with the aim of reducing mortality and morbidity rates among women of reproductive age.

Irene Huertas
MSF project coordinator

Since taking over management of the clinic, MSF has trained the health staff working there, provided medical supplies and equipment, standardised hygiene protocols and made structural improvements to the building. MSF has also set up a triage system and an emergency referral system, for patients who need more specialised medical attention. 

Zika Prevention  

MSF teams carried out activities in Tegucigalpa to improve control of the Aedes mosquito, the insect responsible for the transmission of zika, dengue and chikungunya.

These included a geographical vector analysis to gather information on the possible areas where greater efforts are needed, and community outreach to inform people about fumigation and other ways of controlling the mosquito.

Find out more about Honduras