Our Health Project
Volunteer Center for Public Health : “Centro de Voluntariado en Salud Pública (CESAPU)" was opened for the public in December 2016.
Public Health (or lack there of) in Peru
MINSA offers health care to 60% of the population while Essalud covers 30% of the population (Global Health Workforce Alliance 2016). As of September 26, 2016, the MINSA went into a state of emergency due to “shortages of medicine” and “incompetent management”, leaving all of their patients, (over half of Peru!) in negative circumstances. It is ridiculous that the main form of health care in Peru goes into a state of emergency for lack of basic medical supplies! Even more so, public health is a serious weak point in Peru. It receives hardly any attention when it comes to medical care, which focuses more on curative medicine rather than preventative medicine and population health. Furthermore, careers in public health exist in very few universities in Peru like it does in the USA (i.e.Masters of Public Health). Evidence shows, however, that no initiative aimed to reduce poverty will be effective if a person’s health is not taken into account. Many times, a family member gets sick and as a result the family is drained of all financial resources. Without focusing on preventing disease, Peru and its people suffer to escape the vicious cycle of poverty due to poor health.
Realizing the need…
We have noticed one reoccurring theme in all of our past HOP medical campaigns: many Peruvians attend simply to check if they have a health problem or not. (This is a good thing!) While we love to see a good percentage of 'healthy' people at our campaigns, it reveals to us a larger problem in Peru’s health structure, which is the lack of routine medical check-ups before getting sick! People without health symptoms prefer to attend our pop-up medical campaigns, because typically the hospitals and health centers are overcrowded and collapsing with sick and needy people. To go to a health center without an existing condition seems to the majority of people like a waste of time. Another reason why the health centers are over-crowded is because the country of Peru has many weak points in prevention and promotion of health. HOP directors Rosa Sanchez & Katie Baric have met with various directors of primary care health clinics in Trujillo, and they all agree that prevention is of the upmost importance, and they wish to focus more on prevention yet their clinics are constantly at full-capacity with sick patients. As a result, they have to focus their limited resources away from promotion and prevention activities and more towards curative medicine. AKA they end up putting more time, effort, and money on the back end in disease management, rather than having the luxury to invest on the front end in disease prevention.
Promising current projects, but still a long way to go!
Currently, Essalud is having an attractive program called Reforma de Vida. This program is growing slowly yet surely and they work in partnership with schools and businesses in various communities throughout Trujillo. Reforma de Vida concentrates on disease prevention by doing large-scale health screenings to identify people who display certain disease risk factors, and registering them in a 9-week health educational program. The results are positive, but this one program alone is simply not enough to cover everybody’s public health needs. There is also the “Preventorios" which ones offers regular check-ups for ‘healthy’ people, but these model of centers are not enough in Peru. Hands on Peru wants to do our part in order to continue to work towards disease prevention.
Volunteer Center for Public Health - Centro de Voluntariado en Salud Pública (CESAPU) :
Project promoted by the volunteers of our Hands to Care Program "Manos para Cuidar"
We have built a Center for Public Health which will work in health prevention and education in the forgotten and isolated caserío of Los Angeles in Huanchaquito, Peru. Focused on sustainability and communityparticipation, this new health model serves all 300 families of Los Angeles plus the surrounding caseríos. This is a win-win opportunity, as our volunteers will get to work directly with people every single day, and the community will get the opportunity to have more awareness of their own health status. Communities will be able to avoid long lines while being able to get fast check-ups and lovely, free care from our volunteers. Our campaigns cover topics like sanitation, hygiene, oral health, female care, sexual and reproductive health, nutrition, pregnancy care, communicable and noncommunicable disease risk factors, stress reduction, occupational health and environmental care. We hope that this volunteer center will be the start of a long road for the community’s development, as they currently have no source of potable water, no church, no school, no paved roads, and their nearest health center is 30 minutes away by bus.
Most screenings can be done with proper training: such as checking weight, blood pressure, glucose levels, testing for anemia, and taking individual clinical histories. Many professionals in health as doctors and nurses in Trujillo have expressed excitement about this project, and have offered their help to attend as guest doctors in our larger campaign.
Our fundraising needs
Obviously, to keep such a large project is hard, yet possible. With our current relationships in Trujillo, and our successful volunteer programs since 2013, we have achieved the first goals : build and organize everything, then the following goals include working and solving the problems that exist in preventive care. We have everything we need to have a successful clinic: volunteers, expertise, community buy-in, yet we lack arguably the most important link in the chain: Funding! This is where YOU come in! We need your help now more than ever, especially now. We have faith, though, that with proper fundraising techniques and grant applications in both USA and Peru, the money will come and our project will be installed and working 100% in the full year.
Hands on Peru has survived and flourished in the past 4 years on word of mouth and the wonderful efforts of our volunteers. With only 4% of our income coming from private donations, we have managed to spend at least 13% of all of our money on donations for the community! But in order to cover these new costs, we are asking for sponsorships from medical practices and local businesses and donations from individuals who believe in our project’s mission and who also feel the call to support our genuine desire to take action and improve global health and reduce poverty.
FAMILY MEDICINE RESIDENTS - UNIVERSIDAD NACIONAL DE TRUJILLO
Every week, CESAPU hosts family medical residents who are completing their required rotations in Universidad Nacional de Trujillo (UNT) in the CESAPU. The residents study under Dr. Jose Cabrejo, MD, MPH. These medical residents are a great source of consistent health advice for the community and primary care to address basic health needs of the population. They have collected community health and demographic data so that CESAPU can accurately identify the community’s health needs problems and apply culturally appropriate solutions.