Doctors and Hospitals
As might be imagined, the quality of health care in most of Honduras is low. Rural areas are particularly bad off, often with only a small, ill-equipped clinic to cope with several villages, usually staffed by a single doctor. Sometimes out in rural regions, you may happen across foreign medical brigades on temporary missions in Honduras. While their ability to treat chronic diseases is limited, they often provide much-needed, life-changing assistance, ranging from a pair of reading glasses to cleft-palate and club-foot surgeries.
In larger towns and cities, better clinics and hospitals can be found. Steer clear of the state-run clinics, which are inexpensive but also very crowded and can provide poor service. Smaller clinics are sometimes staffed by doctors with training in Mexico or the United States. The three largest cities in the country—Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, and La Ceiba—each have good-quality private hospitals that can handle most ailments.
If you require special medical attention on a trip to Honduras, or want a doctor to come along with your group, contact Emergency Medical Services (tel. 504/552-2255 or 504/557-0080, www.honduras.com/EMS) in San Pedro Sula on 5 Calle at 11 Avenida NO. Red Cross ambulances can be reached by dialing 195 in most cities; payment is due at time of transport.
Most basic pharmaceutical drugs are available in Honduras, many without a prescription. Almost all are generic versions manufactured in Mexico and Guatemala. Nevertheless, it’s always best to bring an adequate supply of any prescription medication you require, including blood-pressure medicine, insulin, epilepsy drugs, birth-control pills, and asthma medication. Keep in mind that allergies may be triggered by unfamiliar allergens encountered in a new environment.
Pharmacists in Honduras are much less demanding about prescriptions for medication, and in fact frequently prescribe to clients who describe their symptoms. Although this can be convenient, particularly for simple problems, you are also taking a chance. There are drugs available that are not FDA-approved, and for good reason; and both pharmacists and doctors have been known to prescribe combinations of medicine that while fine separately, together are contraindicated. Also, tolerance to antibiotics is a growing problem as a result of over-prescription of powerful antibiotics by pharmacists.
Pharmacies in Honduras normally operate on the turno system, in which one local shop stays open all night for emergencies on a rotating basis. Often the turno pharmacy of the night is posted on a sign in the downtown square. If not, ask at your hotel, or look for a listing in the local newspaper.
© Chris Humphrey and Amy E. Robertson from Moon Honduras, 5th Edition