In 1997, Dr. Kevin Waltz made the first of many trips to Honduras as a medical practitioner. Like all medical volunteers, he was overwhelmed by the warmth, generosity, and ingenuity of the local staff and patients. At the same time, he was saddened by the realization that all medical providers in Honduras, even ones visiting from America and other developed countries, are generally underfunded, understaffed, and under-equipped.
Over the years, Dr. Waltz made local friends and learned from them. They taught him two valuable lessons:
Empower local surgeons:
Visiting medical volunteers, of course, help many people. But their legacy is limited by the number of patients they can see in a short time span. It’s necessary to empower local surgeons to exponentially increase the impact of your work.
Improve the local infrastructure:
Equipping local clinics with the best supplies and technology is important. But, if you’re not careful, importing equipment can distort the local market and hamper local entrepreneurship and limit future options for patients and providers. It’s important to involve local clinics and distributors in the process.
Central American Eye Clinics (CAEC) was a response to this charge. Through a network of international and local partnerships, we established a self-sustaining system of charity care, self-paid care, and sponsored research that harnesses the goodwill and expertise of the international medical community, empowers local medical professionals and strengthens the infrastructure of the regional healthcare industry.