Hospital Arco Iris
The first plans for the Arco Iris Foundation began in 1997 with the idea to build a hospital, after Father Jose's initial attempts to cover for homeless children's healthcare through local clinics and hospitals soon became prohibitive due to high costs. The first healthcare related project was located in a school in downtown La Paz, where ambulatory treatment was provided to the children.
In August 1998, the German Papstiiches Missionswerk fur Zinder (PMK – Pope’s Missionary work for the Children) in Germany requested funds to the European Union (EU) for a 5 year project, and thanks to this help, the Arco Iris foundation started the construction of a modern three story high hospital, located on the April15th Street, in Villa Fatima, Alto Miraflores of La Paz. The construction of the Arco Iris hospital was finished in 2001, the opening ceremony was September 27, and started operating on October 23rd, 2001. (www.arcoiris.org.bo)
The objectives of the hospital were: Sanitary prevention and rehabilitation of approximately thirty thousand children who work in the streets of La Paz, five thousand of whom make the streets their home. A secondary objective at the time was the basic health training of this underprivileged and under-served population. Later on, the social programs of the Foundation were created to focus and expand on educating and caring for the children.
The statistics showed at the time that 78% of the children have teeth cavities, 42% are alcoholics, 39% suffer from vision diseases, 28% carry venereal diseases, 28% suffer from malnutrition, 26% have some kind of drug addiction and 16% suffer from some other kind of infections, like skin diseases, diarrhea and respiratory diseases.
The hospital of 100 beds shows high standards and modernity in its infrastructure and medical equipment, it is well respected and highly regarded in the city, and is considered one of the best hospitals in Bolivia. With a staff of 270 people, it offers 26 distinct health care specialties and attends to around 80,000 patients a year, 4,000 of whom are children who live in the streets. Impoverished children and families are treated free of charge. It has 4 mobile dispensaries that provide primary health service in locations where most street children live. These mobile units annually attend to close to 40.000 children of under 18 months of age, including free provision of needed medications.
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