Foundation Human Nature (FHN) supports a
sustainable development program in the region “El Páramo” in the Northwest of
Ecuador. The focus is on primary health care backed by a health centre in the
main village La Y de la Laguna.
The health centre was officially opened on 15 December 2001. Offering long-term sustainability and steadiness, FHN signed a contract for cooperation with the Ministry of Health, the local hospital in Quinindé, and the voluntary local health committee. Based on this contract, health care is supported by doctors, dentists, nurses, midwives and laboratory assistants. Monthly deliveries of medications – the amount and components of which are limited – vaccinations and materials are provided by the hospital in Quinindé. FHN provides funding for additional medications (amount and components), materials, repairs and purchase of medical equipment.
The local health committee consists of local community members who were involved in constructing the health centre and are now engaged in administering it. The health committee is represented by its board and approved by the governmental authorities. Administrative tasks such as the purchase of medications, accounting and budgeting is done by an administrator who is paid for by FHN, but employed by the local health committee.
For the first time in August 2002, every community elected two persons being educated as community health workers who since then participate in regular capacity building activities, e.g. on first aid, family planning, vaccination programs, hygiene and medicinal plants. Local doctors and international volunteers lead these capacity building activities. The acquired knowledge is shared with neighbours and other community members.
As paths within the region re hardly accessible especially during the rainy seasons, it is hardly possible for families with kids to regularly visit the health centre for check-ups or vaccinations. Therefore, the local health committee together with community health workers organizes so-called health brigades (“brigadas medicas”). During a health brigade, a medical team visits the villages around La Y to do examinations, treat patients and vaccinate children. Health brigades bring along medication to be able to offer direct help.
A laboratory was set up in the health centre to aid in the accurate diagnosis of uncommon illnesses. It is staffed by an FHN-trained local laboratory assistant and spares patients long and costly journeys to Quinindé for examinations. Here, different tests can be done, i.e. malaria or dengue related laboratory analyses of patient samples.