When the doctor or dentist is miles away

The rural population of Bolivia lives in remote villages in very modest conditions. Access to adequate medical and dental care is often non-existent. The nearest health facility is usually far away and, since public transport is rare, can only be reached on foot. This can lead to life-threatening situations: Malnutrition, increased infant mortality or untreated dental infections with further serious health consequences. Therefore, our medical and dental teams regularly visit remote rural villages and provide medical and dental care to the locals. As most common illnesses are caused by poor hygiene, we work with the families and schools on hygiene habits and routines.

Timeframe

2021-2023

Pillar

Health

Project Community

3,700 families in 103 rural communities (pop. 13,000) in remote regions of La Paz

Project area

Project Goal

Provide access to primary health care for the mostly indigenous population in rural highland Bolivia, with the aim of reducing malnutrition, the spread of diseases and significantly improving the health of children and adults.

Project details

This project is part of our  integral Programme Healthy Municipality and is implemented in both Bolivia and Peru.

Good health is a prerequisite for children to attend school and learn. It is also a major factor in people’s economic development but conditions in remote villages are precarious. People already have cavities or gum disease at a young age, which is not only painful but can lead to serious infections. Acute respiratory illnesses or gastrointestinal problems, which lead to a higher mortality rate, are widespread. Parasites, malnutrition and mother-child mortality are still a major problem. Economic, environmental and climatic conditions exacerbate health problems.

The most common diseases are caused by poor hygiene. Therefore, our teams not only carry out urgently needed medical and dental treatment but also focus on preventing illness. Families and schools are taught about the importance of hygiene and learn why they need to wash their hands before preparing food and eating, brush their teeth regularly, etc.

The temporary consultation rooms provided by the communities and equipped by Suyana are also used by public health workers. We support local health workers with further training and/or medical equipment so that they can provide respectful quality care to more people in the future. This extends the reach of public primary healthcare and provides this otherwise marginalised population with improved access to health services. Detailed medical records are kept to guarantee appropriate treatment and enable long-term monitoring of cases.

To improve this situation, we have nine teams driving nine off-road vehicles each with a fully equipped dental surgery in the back. Our medical teams provide basic medical care for schoolchildren in their schools and visit the elderly or very sick patients in their homes.  Emergency cases are transferred directly to the nearest hospital. Our teams live in the villages for three weeks of every five, and so build up a good relationship with the community enabling them to work on prevention measures as well as providing treatment.

Together we make it happen

All these activities contribute to a significant improvement in living conditions for the mainly indigenous populations in rural areas of the Bolivian highlands.

So far our mobile teams have:

  • Reduced malnutrition among children by an average of 15%
  • Reduced cavities in children: 6 out of 10 children are cavity-free

 

“Hello, my name is Miriam, I’m in year three at Huaycho Primary School. Doctor Ana from the Suyana Foundation helps us get better when we’re not well, and she measures us, weighs us, gives us cough medicine, and then teaches us to wash our hands so that we don't get ill.”

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Together we make it happen

For more information get in touch with:

david.fuchs@suyana.ch
+41 41 710 82 16

David Fuchs
David Fuchs

Projects
South America

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