Preliminary analysis of the disability landscape on Roatán, Honduras

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Julia Lin
Catherine Purnell
Shanzeh Sheikh
Hishi Ulak
Kallie Vallecillo
Dennis Clements


Understanding the needs of persons with disabilities (PWDs) is vital to improving targeted healthcare and resources. The project seeks to assess the prevalence of disabilities, resources used, and care and treatment needs for PWDs on Roatán, Honduras. There is little to no prior research about disabilities on the island of Roatán, and few disability studies available in the country of Honduras. We surveyed 581 community members on the island of Roatán over a period of 6 weeks, on questions surrounding the disability status of themselves and their family members, and resources used by PWDs. Interviews were conducted with physicians, promotoras (community health promoters), and staff at the local Rehabilitation Clinic to assess the social experiences and resource needs of PWDs on the island. Of the 613 subjects obtained from our surveys, 258 (42%) had one or more disabilities. The most common disabilities were vision impairment, mobility impairment, and diabetes. 44.98% reported that the PWD did not visit any medical care facility to receive treatment. We found that there was a lack of disability-specific resources on Roatán, and no consistent definition of disability among community members and healthcare providers. Barriers to care include discrimination; caretaker burden; lack of medications, assistive devices, and specialists; and transportation. Our research highlights the need for more education on disabilities within communities, as well as increasing the amount and depth of disability-specific resources accessible on the island. This study was conducted at the request of Clinica Esperanza to determine how it could better support PWDs on Roatán, and the potential benefit of developing a day home for PWDs.

Article Details

persons with disabilities, disability-specific resources, barriers to care
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How to Cite
Lin, J., Purnell, C., Sheikh, S., Ulak, H., Vallecillo, K., & Clements, D. (2024). Preliminary analysis of the disability landscape on Roatán, Honduras. The Columbia University Journal of Global Health, 14(1).