Research Article

A Community Explored: Healthcare on a Nicaraguan Coffee Farm

Author: Jessica Alicea-Planas

Objectives: The production of coffee provides 280,000 permanent agricultural jobs in Nicaragua and is considered an economic pillar for many rural communities. Close to half of Nicaragua’s population lives in rural areas; and 80% of the country’s extreme poor live in rural regions. Main objectives of this research were to explore health care visits of coffee farm workers in rural Nicaragua and identify health education needs. Study Design: This coffee farm is in north central Nicaragua and offers an on-site clinic. A retrospective chart review of visits was completed. Methods: Visits that occurred three months prior to the on-site visit were those reviewed. Exclusion criteria included any visit entry with a missing medical diagnosis. Results: A total of 334 clinic visits were explored. More than half of the sample (58%) worked and/or lived on the farm where the clinic is located. Sixty-one percent of the visits were for acute reasons; 17% were for a chronic illness-related diagnosis. Conclusion: There is a dearth of information available about the health of coffee farm workers. Various cost-effective health promotion interventions could impact those affected by the preventable diagnoses noted. Areas of prospective health promotion/education include suggestions that could be implemented both in the working fields and within the farm communities such as occupational safety, hand-washing education, pain management and the promotion of preventative care services.