The Healthy Child Project: Double Mission Accomplished
When the child health campaign was being rolled out in Aguaragüe, in Salta, Dr. Marcelo Casanueva detected two cases of children who needed extra care. Here’s their story.
Do you remember the Healthy Child Project, Tecpetrol's initiative in the communities near the Aguaragüe, Salta operation? It was a preventive medical campaign for children aged between four and fourteen. The project, which is about health prevention and information, was organized jointly with the schools in Campo Durán and El Algarrobal. The general objective was to bring general medicine, ophthalmology and dentistry services to children in a sector of the population with difficulties in accessing medical care.
Between the two schools, doctors examined over two hundred children and talked to their families. “We saw everyone, we chatted to their parents, we accompanied the kids through their ophthalmological, dental and medical processes in general. And that's when, as he was seeing the children for their check-ups, our doctor detected that there were two of them who couldn't speak,” recounts Luciana Fernández, CORE Analyst in Aguaragüe, as she introduces Dr. Marcelo Casanueva, a family doctor specializing in occupational medicine who is providing services to the Base Lomitas.
Dr. Casanueva explains that, “The first child, Nazareno, has problems at home. He’s from a dysfunctional family, with absent parents and ten siblings, and, although he can write, he doesn’t speak, he’s emotionally blocked. For this child, we organized assistance from a psychopedagogue and a speech-language therapist who will be working closely with the school. We’ve been developing this since the end of November last year, and we expect the professionals to begin work this year,” summarizes the doctor: “The second child, Angelito, is nine years old. He had some problems with his tongue frenulum, which was stuck to the lower palate. He stammered, spoke slowly and with great difficulty. The parents had already consulted privately about a surgical procedure to correct this, but it was too difficult for them."
“I want to highlight this point,” intercedes Luciana, “without undermining either merit or scope, as our health campaign was limited to a clinical review in which we were involved and even provided prescription glasses. But Dr. Casanueva went much further and took on the cases of these children as a personal mission. Not only did he find the professionals to work with Nazareno, but he was finally able to get an appointment for the surgery to separate Angelito's tongue from the palate."
The news was very good: the surgery went extremely well and Angelito began talking, improving day by day. The doctor asked his mother to monitor progress, and one day he got a surprise. He’d asked the boy to send him a WhatsApp audio of him reading a few lines from his school book aloud. But they decided to surprise him. Luciana’s face lights up as she tells us that Angelito didn't read anything from the book, but simply sent the doctor a heartfelt thank-you audio: "Hello! When my frenulum was stuck, I couldn't speak very well, I kept getting stuck when I tried to talk. Dr. Casanueva came to visit us at our little school in Campo Durán. There my mom talked to him and told him that I couldn't speak properly and I found it hard to say anything. After the surgery, I could speak better and I don't get stuck as much anymore. Thank you, doctor, for your help." This is how a child spoke who, only a short while ago, could barely say anything at all, but who now, in that message, says everything.