In November 2014, Chiquita and the International Medical Outreach (IMO) program, a partnership between Carolinas HealthCare System and the Heineman Foundation of Charlotte, celebrated the opening of two echocardiography laboratories in regional hospitals in Zacapa and Quiché, in Guatemala.
The IMO program donated echocardiography (echo) machines to the two hospitals and helped train technicians to operate the machines and to work with cardiologists to identify patients with heart ailments. The machines were transported on Chiquita ships to Guatemala. Echo machines are one of today’s most basic tools used to diagnose heart problems but are not readily available to patients in rural areas in Central America.
The echo lab openings in Zacapa and Quiché are part of an Echo Lab Network project launched in 2010 by the IMO program and Guatemala’s cardiac center, UNICAR. The project aims to provide 13 rural hospitals in Central America with fully functional echo labs. In Guatemala, eight rural hospitals now have these labs and have provided more than 12,300 echocardiograms to thousands of patients.
Since May 2013, the IMO program and Chiquita have collaborated to distribute medical and computer supplies to hospitals, clinics and public schools throughout Central America. They have together transported more than 20 containers that have provided 11 hospitals and rural clinics with medical equipment, and delivered more than 7,500 computers to 500 public schools.
The collaboration with IMO is not Chiquita’s first initiative in the healthcare industry in South America. As an example, the company offered free breast cancer exams to more than 470 women in Costa Rica in 2012, including female employees and women from local communities over 40 years old. This program was implemented in collaboration with the Costa Rican NGO ASEACOB. In the same year, Chiquita also supported “Fundación Amor y Esperanza”, based in the North Zone of Costa Rica, San Carlos. The non-profit NGO is dedicated to support the special needs of people with severe multiple disabilities in the region mainly through the donation of regular and special wheelchairs. Chiquita donated two retired containers that are now used as storage and repair centers for the wheelchairs.
More information about the echocardiography laboratory openings in Guatemala: