Support Hope

The beautiful country of Paraguay has an infant mortality rate four times that of the United States. Its two hospitals are responsible for treating tens of thousands of children, yet a lack of access to equipment and training has a devastating impact on health. Since 2006, the Steve Nash Foundation has worked to increase access to critical needs health resources, affording children and families the chance for healthier, happier outcomes.
Some of our favorite projects include:

Hospital Nacional de Itagua

Centro del Manejo del Tracto Genital Inferior de Blanca Menrath

Centro del Manejo del Tracto Genital Inferior de Blanca Menrath opened in Paraguay just as we prepared to celebrate a day of thanksgiving with our families. During the summer of 2009, Steve traveled to Itaguá to check in on the new center’s construction, and, on November 24, 2009, the medical community joined Maria Blanca Menrath to inaugurate this project of the Steve Nash Foundation’s Support Hope initiative.

Worldwide, over 82% of cervical cancer deaths occur among women living at or below poverty levels. In Paraguay, child sex trafficking increases the danger of the disease by increasing the likelihood of contracting HPV, the sexually transmitted genital human papillomavirus. At the Steve Nash Foundation, we believe strongly that income should not impact access, and that girls and women everywhere deserve opportunities to become empowered about their health. By providing educational outreach, awareness, and free precancer screening and treatment services, the Centro helps to Support Hope.  In its first year of operations, the Centro saw thousands of patients from all over southcentral Paraguay, and continues to provide life-saving preventative care.

This project was made possible by dedicated individuals — Dr. Roberto Leon of UBC and Dr. Fernando Guijon of Vancouver; Drs. Fernando Llamosas, Ana Soilan, César Darío Cabañas Pratt, and Enrique Vazquez in Paraguay; Enrique Garcia de Zuñiga of the Paraguayan government; Ivette Almaguer, David Toro, Maria Trujillo and the team at MD International; and Drs. Jon Andrus, Gladys Ghisays, and Merle Lewis, and Silvana Luciani at the Pan American Health Organization. We couldn’t have done it without them. Many of these people also assisted the Foundation with our first project in the region, a pediatric cardiology unit in Asunción. We’re proud to be able to continue our connection with such talented and caring people.

We are also proud that the Centro is named for Blanca Menrath. Maria Blanca started out as a medical sales representative in Paraguay, a position through which she learned a great deal about the medical field. Through years of hard work, she created her own medical equipment business, Menrath Medical, which, until its sale in 2008, was a leader in Paraguay. In 2006, she thoughtfully leveraged her experience to bring new life to her home country; her engagement with the Steve Nash Foundation made our first installment in the region – a post-operative pediatric cardiology ward at Hospital de Clinicas in Asunción – possible. Blanca is a tireless advocate for those in need, and a compassionate leader who affects change through her dedication to bringing health to those without access to resources. She is a welcome face at the Centro Materno Infantil, where she continues to check on the ward and speak with the doctors who use the equipment, and we hope she’ll bring the same joy to those at the new Centro in Itaguá.

While the Centro is named for Blanca, we also hope that it also honours the memory of Dr. Enrique Leon, Roberto’s brother, whose career in gynecology improved many lives in Paraguay at Hospital Nacional and beyond. He is missed.

For more about cervical cancer, please visit the CDC or PAHO

Hospital de Clinicas

Dormía y soñé que la vida era bella; desperté y advertí entonces que ella es deber.* – Immanuel Kant

I slept and dreamed that life was beautiful; I awoke and found that it should be.

( *As presented by Dr. René de Szwako, at the ceremony marking Hospital de Clinicas’ inauguration of the new room at Centro Materno Infantil )

Life should be beautiful. Life should be full of promise, and hearts full of laughter. Yet prior to the opening of the Centro Materno Infantil room at Hospital de Clinicas, the doctors there could do nothing to fix the tiny hearts of their youngest patients because, while able to operate, they lacked the mechanisms through which to monitor children post-operatively. No monitors, no pulse oximeters, no cuffs, no pumps, no resuscitators, no beds. Now that’s changed.

Newborn babies to children up to eighteen years of age needing cardiac surgery now have a safe place to recover. On Wednesday, May 17, 2006, the Foundation attended the inauguration of CMI in Asuncion, Paraguay, and witnessed firsthand our collaboration with MD International and Menrath Medical. This is a hospital that has taken every opportunity to create an encouraging environment for patients and their families ~ brightly colored murals grace the walls, natural light is used where appropriate to bring sunshine to recovery, families crochet baby hats and blankets for each other, and the doctors, nurses, medical faculty, professors and residents are unrelenting in their dedication to ameliorating conditions for their young charges. They support hope everyday, and, working together, they now have more to go on.

At the grand opening, Foundation Executive Director Jenny Miller read a letter from Steve and his family that read, in part:

Thank you for coming today.  While we cannot be here in person, we are here in our thoughts, and in our hopes for the children of Paraguay.
We have been so fortunate in life.  We have had opportunities, health, and love.  We believe that love has made us the people we are today, and we spend each day trying to instill in our children that same sense of belonging and safety.  A child that is loved grows up believing in her worth, feeling confident in his place in the world.  A child that is loved can do anything.
But there are some things that love, sadly, cannot overcome.  Love is not enough to heal a tiny, damaged heart, or make strong a struggling newborn.
For all of its promise, science is not enough either.  There is the old saying, “to know and not to do is not to know.”  To know and not be able to do ~ to know, but have no tools with which to act ~ is frustrating.
For a long time, we have known the need in Paraguay for enhanced neonatal cardiac care and felt helpless to act.  With the cooperation of so many here today, we are finally able to do.
Similarly, the doctors of Hospital de Clinicas have had the capacity and the will to care for the infants here who require cardiac care.  Today, we hope to have given them the ability to be able to do so.
Love alone can’t save a baby’s life, and science alone can’t do it, either.  But working together we and you and the children born here today can do so much.  Today we share in your excitement for the future of the country’s smallest citizens, and wish them all a long lifetime of love.

The Foundation is continuing to develop capital and health projects in Paraguay and welcomes your support.