Director of Global Health Partnership at Boston based Breegi Scientific Inc.

Dr. Luther Castillo presents to Belize Civic Fellows

Dr. Luther Harry Castillo was born in the Garifuna community of San Pedro de Tacamacho, municipality of Juan Francisco Bulnes, Gracias a Dios, Honduras. He is Director of Global Health Partnership at Boston based Breegi Scientific Inc. Dr. Castillo graduated from the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM), with the degree of Doctor in Medicine. He is the founder and director of the First Garifuna Hospital. Dr. Castillo became the first Garifuna graduate of the prestigious Harvard University, with a Master’s Degree and two specializations in Public Administration and a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Policy and Management.

Dr. Castillo is the Director of Global Health Partnership at Boston based Breegi Scientific Inc., a socially conscious innovator engineering safe, affordable, easy to use products to help solve infant mortality and morbidity. Breegi Scientific’s Neonatal Intensive Care Incubator provides a critical care environment for preventing infant deaths with an ultra-low cost medical device designed for the developing world and other low-resource settings.

According to the Breegi’s Dr. Castillo wrote the current public health policy of Honduras and is currently pioneering alternative healthcare models for low-resource communities, such as his native Garifuna ethnic People. A Harvard Kennedy School alumnus, Dr. Castillo is one of the most active public health officials in Central and Latin America, and splits his time between attending academic events around North and Latin America, and spending the remainder of his time in rural Honduras developing his clinics. He is a medical doctor with an MPH from Harvard University has significant experience in Low and Middle-Income Countries. He is a government expert on low resource and child healthcare issues. He is passionate about promoting medical innovation in rural Honduras and in indigenous communities such as the Garifuna people. He is former Commissioner of Health in Honduras and was commissioned by the President for writing the National Healthcare Reform.

Dr. Castillo was an Edward S. Mason Fellow at the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government. The program has brought “demonstrated leaders from developing, newly industrialized and transitional economy countries” to the Kennedy School. Dr. Castillo was part of the 2013 Mid-Career Master in Public Administration degree program and completed his Mid-Career Master in Public Administration. The Mason Fellowship allowed Doctor Castillo, a Medical Doctor who established a community hospital in one of the poorest parts of Honduras, to take his work to the next level.

Castillo galvanized the Garifuna an Afro-indigenous minority living in remote areas of Honduras to build and run their own alternative model of health care. The result was the First Garifuna Hospital of Honduras. Living well beyond paved roads or electricity, Garifuna communities had little access to health care services. Before the hospital was built, those who needed hospital services were sometimes carried in hammocks to the nearest city, a trek that could take 10 to 12 hours. Even when the patient’s ailments were as simple as a respiratory illness, many could not survive the trauma of the trip.

Since the community built the hospital with their own hands in 2005, the two-story structure has treated more than 800,000 patients, charging nothing for medicine or services. The Garifuna manage the hospital themselves, distributing medicine, treating patients, and raising funds to keep it operational, and their success is now the model of national health care in the country. In 2013, Castillo was named the National Commissioner of Health Care in Honduras.

The First Garifuna Hospital of Honduras is the headquarters of the “Luagu Hatuadi Waduhenu”  For the Health of Our People Foundation, a community initiative in defense of the health of the communities.

The hospital serves as a bastion of self-determination. The Garifuna community’s efforts in building the hospital were detailed in the documentary Revolutionary Medicine: A Story of the First Garifuna Hospital, which tells the story of how the hospital’s alternative health model is transforming communities on Honduras’ Northern Coast and standing as an alternative to an increasingly privatized national health system.

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