Ever since hurricane Mitch hit the impoverished country of Honduras in 1998, Medical professionals and volunteers from Missoula have contributed time and money in an effort to raise Honduran quality of life.

Missoula Medical Aid sends groups to Honduras three times a year. One of those groups returned home over the past week. Physician's Assistant and team member Paula College has been on nine Missoula Medical Aid trips and though she wasn't on this most recent trip, she has a good idea of what volunteers witnessed.

"A lot of them are just the same, you know coughs colds flu, that kind of stuff" explained College, comparing health problems in Honduras to Missoula. "We'll see abscesses and just general medical needs. Also, medication management is severely lacking, but we can't do a lot with that other than try to bridge them until they can get to a medical provider. We also see a lot of skin problems, lung problems, and dental problems."

Missoula Medical aid has addressed some of these problems with long term solutions.

"We started a healthy gardens and farms project," College said. "The healthy farm part will help them grow vegetables and teach them better techniques for growing vegetables and provide seeds. That, in turn, will provide for better nutrition. We noticed that there were a lot of coughs. People went out to their houses and noticed that they were cooking inside the house with no ventilation. Now we have a chimney program so that these houses can get the smoke out of their lives and improve the health of the whole family."

They even staff a dentist permanently in one town. According to College, the dentist can be staffed at an extremely low price.

Missoula Medical aid is currently looking for a translator for an upcoming trip in January. Of course, funding and volunteers of all kinds are needed. To get involved go to MissoulaMedicalaid.net.