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Dr. Martha Pelaez

 

Martha Pelaez of Miami, Florida is recently retired from Pan American Health Organization and volunteered in El Salvador and Nicaragua.  In 2007, she worked with the National Secretary for Families and the National Committee on Aging in El Salvador conducting strategic planning for the future of aging services and engaged regional and national organizations in support of a collaborative effort to improve access and quality of services.  In 2006, Dr. Pelaez traveled to Nicaragua to provide training on accreditation and monitoring of homes for the elderly including common health problems such as infections, chronic diseases, depression, and dementia.  She focused on improving care and preventing abuse; promoting personal hygiene, physical, social and mental activities, and how to manage communication with the health centers.

 

Projects:

BELIZE RECEIVES ELDERLY CARE PLAN.  In 2003, Martha Pelaez volunteered with FAVACA in Belize to work with the National Council on Aging (NCA) to develop of 5 year national strategic plan for services provided to a rapidly aging population.  The NCA's primary purpose is to advocate for the changes that are necessary in Belizean society that will improve the quality of life for older people now and for future generations. The NCA is in the final year of their 5 year plan and contacted FAVACA to find an expert who could help to evaluate their success in implementing the plan.  The volunteer was also requested to work with NCA's staff and board members to develop another 5-10 year strategic national plan on aging.  2007 FAVACA Volunteer of the Year, Martha Pelaez of Miami Florida, agreed to provide the requested training and offer her suggestions in designing and implementing a new strategic plan.  Pelaez, the Director of the Healthy Aging Initiative of the Health Foundation of South Florida and a retired gerontologist with the Pan American Health Organization, traveled to Indian Creek located in the province of Toledo, Belize November 26-November 29, 2008.

EL SALVADOR COMMITTED TO ITS ELDERLY.  The National Secretary of Family (SNF) of El Salvador is an institution that is committed to promoting, creating, and facilitating opportunities and conditions that encourage the integral unity and sustainable development of the family and its different members.  Created by an Executive Order in 1989, they have successfully obtained a very positive image among Salvadorians for being an effective, transparent, and compassionate office working to create a comprehensive and effective program for the systematic care of the elderly.  To this end, Ana Morales, Director of Integral Attention to the Elderly, contacted FAVACA for assistance in developing a nationwide program dedicated to El Salvador's aging community.  Return FAVACA volunteer and retired gerontologist with the Pan American Health Organization, Dr. Martha Pelaez, committed herself once again to the betterment of the region's elderly.  She traveled to San Salvador June 19 - 22, 2007, and worked with Ana Morales and her staff at the SNF, as well as the National Committee on Aging, to conduct strategic planning for the future of aging services in El Salvador and engage them in support of a collaborative effort to improve access and quality of services.

NICARAGUAN MINISTRY OF FAMILY IMPROVES QUALITY OF LIFE FOR ELDERS.  The Ministry of Family has the responsibility for coordinating government efforts on behalf of the elderly and for accrediting and monitoring 19 homes for the elderly. Traveling to Nicaragua February 23-28, 2006, return FAVACA volunteer Dr. Martha Pelaez provided intensive training to caregivers from eleven homes and met with administrators, staff and residents.  Pelaez also advised the Ministry on accreditation issues for homes for the elderly.  The home's operating budget depends entirely on donations from the community and demand for beds in most homes exceeds capacity.  The situation is critical and administrators need training in developing sustainable programs such as micro-enterprises to supplement their budget.  Each participating home developed an initial plan to advocate for greater community support.  Six participants from the Ministry of Family and two local physicians joined the twenty caregivers for the training. Topics included: common health problems such as infections, chronic diseases, depression, and dementia; improving care and preventing abuse; promoting personal hygiene, physical, social and mental activities, and how to manage communication with the health centers.

INNOVATIVE ELDER PARTNERSHIP FORGED.  In a unique alliance, FAVA/CA, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the University of the West Indies (UWI) and Florida International University (FIU) are joining forces to address aging issues in the Caribbean.  September 30 - October 3, 1996, FAVA/CA volunteer consultants Max Rothman, Executive Director of FIU's Southeast Florida Center on Aging, and FIU Professor Burton Dunlop set goals for collaboration with UWI Professor of Social and Preventive Medicine, Dr. Denise Eldemire, and PAHO gerontologist Dr. Martha Pelaez.  The group convened at the UWI Mona Campus in Kingston, Jamaica and discussed pilot projects in data gathering, research, and practical program development.  Among the planned activities are model program dissemination, country profile development, and journalist training in aging issues.  Partial funding for this activity was provided by the Mildred and Claude Pepper Foundation through FAVA/CA's Seniors in Service Overseas Program.

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