Anje Van Berckelaer - Live from the GA at LMU, July 30, 2011, 1:30-4:30 pm
CEPAFOS, Tehuantepec, Oaxaca (Mexico)
Update from board member Irma Cruz
CEPAFOS is an alternative health center that trains community health workers and provides direct services in allopathic medicine as well as many alternative modalities, including massage, acupuncture, herbal and traditional medicine, with a focus on whole-person and preventive health. The organization also accompanies surrounding rural communities, with health promoters reaching out to support people in need. The population of these communities faces a high burden of psychological stress.
New activities include a change in the way health promoters are trained, moving to a decentralized model, training health promoters in their own communities. Challenges to this outreach include long travel times and poor road conditions, especially when it rains. The garden of medicinal herbs is progressing, with the newest goal of adding a temascal, a traditional mode of hydrotherapy.
Altamirano, Chiapas (Mexico)
Update from Juan Manuel Canales, physician accompanying the autonomous communities
JMC, reflecting on the events of the last week, spoke of the impact yesterday's skid row visit had on him, realizing the sad impact of homelessness on so many lives.
Paraphrasing his talk: We would like to be able to create a health care system, provided by the government, which provides high-quality services to all the people, at no cost to them. In contrast, what exists is a system in which insurance companies profit from disease. Because of the political imbalance, the war on drugs and drug trafficking, thousands of young people, civilians have died.
In the past, we struggled to liberate ourselves from oppression. These struggles succeeded in bringing many needed changes. Doctors were (and should be) part of this change. If we don't participate in these movements, we just continue in the same consumerist lifestyle.
We accompany Tzeltal and Tojolabal indigenous people in the area where we work. This population is marginalized and has a long history of suffering discrimination. We work with them to teach them to become health promoters. We've seen difficulties, but also some great progress. The basic knowledge of anatomy and physiology and the appropriate use of medicines has grown a lot.
Campesinos para el Desarollo Humano (CDH), Estancia (El Salvador)
Update from Jose Ramiro Cortez Argueta
CDH is now a 50-member group, working to improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable people in the community. The programs include direct health care services, including medical consultations, dental and ophthalmologic campaigns, and a specialty referral program for low-income residents. Separately, CDH has been working in early childhood education since 1993, and also supporting school fees for high school students. CDH also runs a microcredit effort that supports small agricultural and commercial loans; the interest from this is rolled back into community programs.
Projects to date include construction, sanitation projects, improved stoves to reduce smoke-related lung injury, chicken coops, and housing condition improvements. A special nutritional supplement program uses local grains and seeds. Another great success was housing improvements. Having grown in administrative and project capacity through its long work with DGH, CDH successfully competed for a special grant to make these housing improvements. 22 homes were built using these funds.
ADES, Cabanas (El Salvador)
Update from Antonio Pacheco
The community of Santa Marta endured years of exile in Mesa Grande, in Honduras, from 1981-87, but during that time learned much about organizing and developing their community. In 1987, 4000 of them returned to Santa Marta, and continued their efforts to organize around community development. After the peace accords in 1990, the community recognized the need to work across the department of Cabanas and formed ADES to carry on this work.
The work initially involved preschool and elementary education, with scholarships for popular educators to receive further training and formal teaching credentials. Since this time, many community members have gone on to achieve professional credentials, including physicians. This is a source of great pride for the community, ensuring continuity of local technical expertise and skill.
Other projects have included communication, ecology and agriculture, literacy training, and have fostered an environment where projects like Radio Victoria are possible. The community has been increasingly concerned about mining activity in the area, with its potential for adverse consequences for agriculture. Those who have objected to the mine have been repeatedly threatened. ADES make a special call to the audience to advocate on behalf of the communities threatened by mine-related violence.
Unidad de Salud, Santa Marta (El Salvador)
Update from Erundina Velis, health promoter
Ms. Velis had been working for decades as a health promoter, initially as part of the national resistance during the civil war, and under the guidance of Juan Manuel Canales. In 1999, she became formally accredited with the ministry of health as a health promoter, and has been working since the latest health reforms in community preventive health with a team of 6 others: a physician, 3 health promoters, 2 nurses, and an administrative/logistical person. The health team reaches out to communities to identify and treat vulnerable individuals and families, while monitoring local epidemiology.
The health teams also support patient or interest groups of diabetics, hypertensive patients, expectant mothers, and mothers of children with disabilities, to give them special support.
Primeros Pasos, Palajunoj (Guatemala)
Update from Trisha Schimek
DGH began collaborating with PP a few years ago, based on good overlap with our respective missions. The clinic provides affordable health care to adults and children in the area. In addition, PP runs women's health and child health education programs. PP has newly begun a scholarship program for indigenous women in secondary and university education.
PP accepts volunteer health educators as well as medical professionals. Guatemalan medical students rotate through the clinic as well.
Action Plus, Kenema (Sierra Leone)
Update from Sean Trafficante, returned volunteer
Action plus works on gender-based violence in Kenema. Volunteer physicians accompanied them by performing exams to document cases, did some training in the hospital, and met with local leaders.
Update from Shirley Novak
The district is home to 250,000, and has two hospitals, which are understaffed with physicians. The project is a collaboration between the residency program at Montefiore in social medicine, DGH, and Kisoro District Hospital. The project includes physician volunteers, a village health program that educates and hires community health workers, a cervical cancer screening program, and a malnutrition rehabilitation unit.
CoCoSI, Santa Marta (El Salvador)
Live theater presentation by Ilcian Lorena Mendez and Mayquel Ernesto Escamillo Escobar
A young man is pursued by a death figure and recounts his diagnosis with AIDS, and the isolation he felt when his community turned its back on him. He triumphs in the symbolic destruction of discrimination, death, stigma, indifference, and the indifferent are transformed.
Update by Brenda Hubbard
CoCoSI is committed to reducing HIV and gender-based violence. The organization works through education and street theater to change attitudes and behaviors. They work to accompany people living with HIV, in prisons and through home visits. Some of the efforts are directed at income support for families, including a hydroponic farm school so that families can feed and eventually support themselves.
CoCoSi works with community radio (Radio Victoria), and participates in festivals, including the annual gay pride parade. Some gains include dramatic drops in teen pregnancy. They were recently awarded the UNAIDS red ribbon for their work.