Maria Fernandez is only 65, but everyone who sees her thinks she is at least 80. Maria has been cooking over an open fire her entire life. She has had trouble breathing for a long time, but she tries not to focus on her symptoms.
Maria wanted a new pair of boots for her granddaughter. She came by the clinic after a neighbor told her we give out free shoes for children. Since she was here already, Maria decided to see a doctor as well. During her examination, we suspected she had asthma and immediately had her try out an inhaler. After a few minutes, Maria was able to breathe easily for the first time in many years.
Maria was given several inhalers to take home. Though it was hard to teach her how to use them, the doctors succeeded.
Many people in our village do not have access to gas stoves so women have to cook over open fires. More than half of our asthma patients are women.